Shinzo Abe to visit China in first visit by Ja­pan PM since 2011

Tehran Times - - WORLD IN FOCUS -

S hinzo Abe will pay the first visit to China by a Ja­panese prime min­is­ter since 2011 later this month in the lat­est sign of warm­ing ties be­tween the Asian ri­vals.

Abe will visit from Oc­to­ber 25 to 27 and mark the 40th an­niver­sary of the Treaty of Peace and Friend­ship be­tween the two na­tions, said Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesper­son Lu Kang on Fri­day.

The visit will “el­e­vate our bi­lat­eral ties and put bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion back on the right track,” Lu said.

Lu added that the two sides will work to “jointly up­hold mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism and the free trade sys­tem” - a com­ment that comes as China and the United States are mired in a trade war that the IMF said this week will af­fect global growth.

Lu said a re­cep­tion has been planned to cel­e­brate the Sino-Ja­panese friend­ship treaty, which was signed on Oc­to­ber 23, 1978.

Abe and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping have met nu­mer­ous times over the last few years on the side­lines of in­ter­na­tional events

But no Ja­panese prime min­is­ter has paid an of­fi­cial visit to China since 2011 and no Chi­nese pres­i­dent has vis­ited Ja­pan since 2010.

SoFtEn­InG stAnDs

Re­la­tions be­tween Bei­jing and Tokyo soured in 2012 over a ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute over sev­eral tiny Ja­panese-con­trolled is­lands in the East China Sea.

Upon re­turn­ing to power in 2012, Abe took a firm po­si­tion on Ja­pan’s sovereignty over the is­land chain, ag­gra­vat­ing ten­sions with Bei­jing.

But he has since soft­ened his rhetoric and called on China to press North Korea to give up its nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grammes. Abe an­nounced last month that he planned to visit China later this year.

“Af­ter that, I very much wish to in­vite Pres­i­dent Xi to Ja­pan,” Abe said af­ter meet­ing the Chi­nese leader on the side­lines of an eco­nomic fo­rum in Rus­sia.

“Through this ex­change of vis­its at the lead­ers’ level, I hope to raise Ja­pan-China re­la­tions to a new stage. I am firmly de­ter­mined in this re­gard,” he had said.

Ja­panese busi­nesses have also voiced a de­sire for closer ties with China to boost trade.

De­spite the rap­proche­ment, sources of ten­sion linger. Last month, Ja­panese De­fense Min­is­ter It­sunori On­odera said China had been “uni­lat­er­ally es­ca­lat­ing” its mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties in the past year, in­clud­ing car­ry­ing out new air­borne op­er­a­tions around Ja­pan and run­ning a nu­clear sub­ma­rine near dis­puted East Coast isles.

Ja­pan also car­ried out in Septem­ber its first sub­ma­rine drills in the dis­puted South China Sea, which Bei­jing mostly claims. At the time, the Chi­nese for­eign min­istry said Tokyo “should act cau­tiously and avoid do­ing any­thing which would harm re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity”.

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