China, Japan moving from competition to cooperation, leaders say

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his policy speech in the Diet on Wednesday

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his policy speech in the Diet on Wednesday

Abe's visit to China is hoped to pave the way for a reciprocal visit by Xi to Japan in the near future. Furthermore, Japan would like to take advantage of China's huge population.

"We hope both sides would work hard to promote regional peace, safeguard multilateralism and free trade, and become the axis of stability, growth and momentum for not just Asia but the world", Li said in a speech at Beijing's Great Hall of the People. Although Japan's alliance with the USA keeps the nation in lockstep with Washington on most geopolitical issues, Mr Abe has moved to shore up economic ties with China - its biggest trading partner.

Xi welcomed Abe's official visit to China and spoke highly of his positive efforts in improving and developing China-Japan relations in recent years.

"Under the new situations, China and Japan, increasingly interdependent in bilateral areas, also share more common interests and concerns on multilateral occasions", Xi said.

Abe's visit highlights the improvement in ties after they hit a low in 2012 during a dispute over East China Sea islands controlled by key USA ally Japan but claimed by China. "Whenever they feel the need to take it out, I'm sure they will do that".

In a special gesture, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be hosted by his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe for a private dinner at his holiday home in the picturesque Yamanashi prefecture on October 28, which will be, perhaps, the first such reception to be extended to a foreign leader.

Japan has trade problems of its own with the United States.

Pointing out that Japan-China relations are moving into a new dimension following China's economic growth, Abe asked Beijing for cooperation on investing in infrastructure in third countries.

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Stating that Japan was one of the "most trusted partners" in India's economic and technological modernisations and one of the top investors in India, PM Modi said: "Projects like Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail and Dedicated Freight Corridors reflect the high level and strength of our economic engagement".

As this year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Abe said the treaty marks the starting point for bilateral relationship between Japan and China.

"China would like to meet Japan halfway, and work with the Japanese side to return it to its normal track, and maintain the stable, sustained and healthy development of bilateral relations and achieve new improvements", Li said. The Hollywood Reporter said China has imported a total of 12 Japanese films during the first three quarter of 2018.

They are also expected to discuss the territorial issue that put their relationship into a deep freeze. "Japan is welcome to participate in China's progress in the new era".

Meanwhile, Japan has rich experience in dealing with issues such as environmental pollution and population aging, which can provide reference for China's further reform and opening-up, he said.

Japan is at risk as it exports to China manufacturing equipment and electronic parts, which are used to make finished goods for the United States and other markets.

China's nationalistic Global Times said in an editorial that "though the U.S. is quite an influential factor in China-Japan ties, the effect is limited".

"The timing is very important", said Yasuhiro Matsuda, a professor at the University of Tokyo's Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia.

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