Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recognizes that the Pacific Rim leaders’ meeting later this year in Beijing will present an opportunity to improve strained relations with China, Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said Monday.
“I told him we should consider APEC as one possible target,” Masuzoe, who visited Beijing last week, told reporters after meeting with Abe, referring to the annual summit of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Masuzoe visited the prime minister’s office to brief Abe on his three-day trip to China, during which he held talks with China’s vice premier.
China will host this year’s APEC ministerial and working-level meetings before the leaders’ summit in November, potentially giving Japanese and Chinese officials the chance to discuss how to ease bilateral tensions over territorial and historical issues on the sidelines of those meetings.
Abe was also quoted by Masuzoe as telling him that Japan “will keep making efforts to improve relations” with China.
Masuzoe was the first Tokyo governor invited to visit by the Beijing Municipal Government in 18 years. He met with Mayor Wang Anshun to discuss and identify areas of cooperation between the two municipalities.
Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics and Masuzoe’s visit was partly aimed at learning from Beijing’s experience in 2008. But the conflict between the two national governments raised the possibility that Masuzoe, a former Diet member who became Tokyo governor in February, might try to break the deadlock on behalf of Abe.
Masuzoe met with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on Saturday and later told reporters that Wang had criticized Abe’s stance toward China but also expressed hope of improving bilateral relations.