The agreement last week between the defense ministers of Japan and China to increase defense exchange is welcome. It will help reduce tension between the two countries, which has arisen from China’s defense buildup, the territorial dispute over Senkaku Island, natural-gas development in the East China Sea and the political confrontation between China and Taiwan.

The meeting between Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan and his Japanese counterpart Masahiko Komura took place in Tokyo, which itself represents a significant development. The last time Japanese and Chinese defense chiefs met was in September 2003, in Beijing, when then Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba held a talk with Mr. Cao. Since then, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine caused enough friction to prevent further meetings.

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