Japan, China agree to mutual official visits by Abe, Xi

Sergio Conner
April 16, 2018

He will be chairing the Japan-China High-Level Economic Dialogue along with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono during his three-day visit.

Wang told reporters after meeting with Kono that the Chinese side "confirmed Japan's desire to improve its bilateral ties with China".

The Trump-Abe discussions, the second of its kind between the two since past year, would continue with a larger bilateral meeting where the leaders could expand their discussions to include a range of "priority bilateral issues", said the official.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will reportedly affirm with United States President Donald Trump that any proposal by North Korea for a "phased and simultaneous" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should be refused.

Kono said he also asked for China's cooperation in resolving the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

Wang's trip - the first of its kind in more than than eight years - comes ahead of a scheduled summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27 in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the Koreas. The Chinese are seeking Japanese cooperation on U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs implemented last month, the Japanese Kyodo News agency reported Saturday, citing people close to the talks.

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Noting that this year marks 40 years since the signing of a bilateral peace and friendship treaty, Kono said he and Wang agreed to work for the improvement of bilateral relations across the board.

Since the Japanese government purchased most of the Senkaku Islands from Japanese owner in 2012, China has frequently sent its ships into Japanese territorial waters around them, raising fears that unintended conflict between Japan and China could be sparked in the area.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday began a visit to Japan described as a major step forward in improving frosty relations, as Tokyo tries to stay involved in a flurry of worldwide diplomacy over North Korea. Now, China has an added incentive to fix ties with Japan, after a series of surprises from Trump on North Korea, Taiwan and trade sanctions.

"We are also faced with some complex and sensitive elements", said Mr Wang, a veteran Japan expert who is a former ambassador to Tokyo.

On Monday, Kono and Wang will co-chair a bilateral, high-level economic dialogue in which they are expected to discuss opportunities for economic cooperation including trade and investment.

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