The fundamental rivalry in the Asia-Pacific region between Japan and China will surely linger in 2018, as a thaw in bilateral relations is likely to be restricted to areas of mutual economic benefit.

With 2018 marking the 40th anniversary of the signing of a peace and friendship treaty between the two countries, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in November, on the margins of a regional summit in Vietnam, to make a "new start" in bilateral relations.

Abe said 2018 could see the countries' leaders swap visits for the first time in a decade.