BEIJING – One of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s most trusted aides on Thursday held talks with China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, in a move that could set the stage for another meeting between their leaders, possibly in September.
The visit by Shotaro Yachi, a former top career diplomat who now serves as the first secretariat head of Japan’s National Security Council, comes as Abe is considering visiting Beijing either before or after Sept. 3 for what could be his third set of talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
On Sept. 3, China will hold a ceremony and a major military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
For what China calls its day of victory in an eight-year war of resistance against Japanese aggression, China has extended invitations to Abe and other leaders of “relevant countries.”
Abe has no plans to attend the parade but is not excluding the possibility of visiting China in September as Tokyo and Beijing have been trying to accelerate the pace of thawing ties that had long been chilled by disagreements over territory and wartime history, according to officials close to him.
Yachi, a key architect of Abe’s foreign and security policies, played a major role in realizing Abe’s first meeting with Xi last November.
He and Yang, who outranks China’s foreign minister, hashed out a four-point statement of consensus on improving bilateral relations days before that meeting took place in Beijing.
When Yachi meets with senior Chinese officials during his three-day visit through Saturday, he is also likely to discuss with them a statement to be issued by Abe around Aug. 15, the day Japan’s surrender to the Allied Powers was announced 70 years ago.
China has been closely watching what Abe will say in the statement.
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