China, Japan ministers pave way for rare summits

China, Japan ministers pave way for rare summits

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday began a visit to Japan described as a major step forward in improving frosty relations, as Tokyo tries to stay involved in a flurry of global diplomacy over North Korea.

Wang's trip also follows an official visit by Kono to Beijing earlier this year, and marks the first visit by a Chinese foreign minister to Japan in a bilateral context in nine years.

Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono co-hosted the meeting, The Paper reports, noting that the two are expected to focus on Belt and Road initiative cooperation, as well as trade and investment.

While ties between Tokyo and Beijing have a troubled history, relations seem to have strengthened following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's diplomatic visit in January.

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Japan hopes the summit will prompt a trip by Abe to China, and in turn, a visit to Japan by Xi. "We agreed the importance of making it a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship", he said.

The official also said the visit is an opportunity for the two leaders to continue their coordination on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and exchange views before Trump meets Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The world's second and third largest economies have a fraught relationship, complicated by longstanding disputes over maritime claims and Japan's wartime legacy.

Mr Wang said his visit was China's answer to "positive" messages and policies by Japan.

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"Since a year ago, Japan has, in relations with China, displayed a positive message and friendly attitude", Wang said at the meeting, adding that he hoped that the visit would help the two countries move towards better ties.

"I want Japan and China to coordinate more toward our shared goal of North Korea's complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearization", Kono said at the outset of the ministers' meeting in Tokyo that was open to the press.

"After the USA withdrawal, Japan, recognising the significance of free trade, has led the initiative in pulling together the TPP 11", Aso said, referring to the other members of the pact.

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