Chinese President Xi Jinping may visit Japan for next year’s summit of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies, diplomatic sources said Thursday.
Tokyo, meanwhile, is hoping Prime Minister Shinzo Abe can visit China as early as this fall, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of a friendship treaty between the two countries, the sources said.
If Xi’s state visit is realized he will become the first Chinese leader to visit Japan since Hu Jintao in 2008.
The two countries recently agreed to go forward with mutual visits by their respective leaders amid efforts to improve bilateral ties.
The G-20 leadership summit will be held in Osaka on June 28-29, 2019.
Abe and Xi have not held talks in the context of an official visit by either side since they took office in 2012 and 2013, but years of strain on bilateral relations due to historical and territorial grievances have recently given way to a thaw.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will attend a trilateral summit Wednesday in Tokyo with Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss North Korea and other regional issues.
Japan had asked if Xi could visit before or after the G-20 meeting but China responded that the president does not usually visit a country more than once a year, the sources said.
Abe wants to improve the bilateral relationship by promoting Japan’s cooperation with the “One Belt, One Road” cross-border infrastructure initiative advocated by Xi.
Signs of better diplomatic ties are also seen in the finance sector. Tokyo and Beijing are expected to resume a bilateral currency swap line in times of financial emergency, according to sources close to the matter.
Abe and Li are likely to announce the agreement after next week’s meeting, the sources said.
The currency pact was made in 2002, but it has not been renewed since 2013 amid a territorial row.
A resumption of the pact would allow the Bank of Japan to get money from the Chinese central bank and provide it to domestic companies when they face a financial crisis, and vice versa.