Japan and China are finally on track to put their relations on a normal path, following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China in late October. During his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Abe announced that the relationship between the two countries was transitioning "from competition to cooperation." He continued: "With President Xi Jinping, I would like to carve out a new era for China and Japan."

However, this development is of a different order than the 2006 agreement between Abe and then Chinese President Hu Jintao for a "strategically beneficial" mutual relationship between the two countries. Put more starkly, recent developments have simply returned the Japan-China relationship from a "minus to zero."

Normalization of China and Japan relations was due in large part to the Trump factor.