National / Politics

Abe looking to accelerate improvements in Japan-China ties after Xi attends G20 summit

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he hopes Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in late June for the Group of 20 summit in Osaka will help accelerate recent improvements in bilateral relations.

“With President Xi’s visit, I want to further develop bilateral ties that have returned to a normal track and jointly create a new era for Japan and China,” Abe said when he met top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, responded by saying he sees “new momentum” for bilateral relations.

“I’m confident that our ties are not only back on a normal track but will continue to develop in a healthy and stable manner,” he said.

Japan and China have for years been mired in a territorial row in the East China Sea. But ties have been improving recently with mutual visits by senior government officials and business leaders.

Abe and Yang agreed to step up preparations for what will be Xi’s first visit to Japan as president when Osaka hosts the G20 summit from June 28 to 29, the Foreign Ministry said.

In a separate meeting earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Taro Kono expressed hope of demonstrating at the G20 gathering that the bilateral relationship has been “markedly improving.” Yang said China hopes the summit will be successful.

The leaders of the G20 major economies will discuss global issues at a time when the United States and China are involved in an escalating trade conflict, casting a shadow over prospects for the global economy.

Abe plans to meet with both Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump on the fringes of the G20.

Yang also met with Shotaro Yachi, national security adviser and a close aide to Abe, on Thursday and Friday in the resort town of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture.

Yang told Abe that he and Yachi had “in-depth and wide-ranging” talks.

The Japanese government said Yang and Yachi agreed on the importance of bringing about peace and cooperation in the East China Sea, and that they also discussed the situation in North Korea and between the U.S. and China.