A top Chinese government official met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Wednesday, agreeing to promote a “mutually beneficial strategic relationship” between the two Asian titans despite the latest diplomatic row over the 1937 Nanking Massacre, a Japanese official said.
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi paid a courtesy visit to Abe at the prime minister’s office. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes, much longer than originally planned, according to the high-ranking Japanese official who attended the meeting.
Abe and Yang also agreed to begin operating a hotline between military officials to prevent “unexpected events,” the official said, likely referring to the potential for incidents in the Japanese-claimed Senkaku Islands, in the East China Sea. The islands, known as Diaoyu in China, are also claimed by Beijing.
Tokyo and Beijing had agreed to set up the emergency line, but China was reportedly reluctant to start operating the system.
On Friday, UNESCO accepted China’s application to its Memory of the World program for registering what Beijing claims are historical documents related to the 1937 Nanking Massacre.
During the meeting, Abe told Yang that the registration was “regrettable,” according to the official, who spoke on condition he not be named.
Abe also expressed “deep concern” over repeated incursions by Chinese government ships into Japanese territorial waters in the East China Sea, according to the official.
But otherwise, the two leaders conversed in “a very friendly atmosphere,” the official said.
“I have a feeling that Japan and China took a roundabout route over the past few years, but the relationship has started improving since the summer of last year,” Yang was quoted as saying by the official.
On Tuesday, Shotaro Yachi, head of the secretariat of Japan’s National Security Council, protested to Yang over the UNESCO’s Nanking Massacre listing.
China has used UNESCO for political purposes by working for the registration of the incident, Yachi told Yang.
At their talks, which lasted about four hours, Yachi and Yang also agreed that their countries will strengthen top-level dialogue.
“There still are problems between the two countries, including in the East China Sea,” Yachi said at the beginning of the meeting. “But we want to open up the future of the bilateral relationship and develop it further.”
Yang replied that Beijing attaches importance to the opportunities for high-level dialogue with Japan.
Yachi conveyed his country’s “serious concerns” about China’s unilateral gas development in the East China Sea and land reclamation around rocks and reefs in the South China Sea.
Information from Jiji added