Reversing his position, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated that Japan is ready to cooperate with China's "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative for cross-continental infrastructure development under certain conditions. He is also now willing to consider Japan joining the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) — of which Japan, along with the United States, sat out when it was set up in 2015 — once doubts about its governance and operation are cleared. While these shifts may be motivated by concerns that Tokyo could be left behind as Beijing and Washington move closer in trying to restrain North Korea, it's time that Japan also take steps to rebuild its strained ties with China, and cooperating with the Chinese initiatives should be a good start.

After Tokyo nationalized the disputed Senkaku Islands in 2012, relations with China plunged to their lowest point since the two countries normalized ties in 1972. China's aggressive maritime posture in the South China Sea, such as its large-scale construction of islands in disputed areas, have added to bilateral tensions. Efforts toward rebuilding the frigid ties have been slow, and top-level contacts remain sporadic.

In a speech in Tokyo earlier this month, Abe lauded the OBOR initiative — put forth by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 to facilitate massive investments that would connect a land-based economic belt modeled on the ancient Silk Road and a maritime corridor stretching from China to Southeast Asia, India, Africa and Europe — as having the "potential to connect East and West as well as diverse regions found in between."