Abe Wants 'New Era' in China-Japan Relations


China and Japan yesterday signed US$2.6 billion in business deals and touted their warmer ties during a rare visit to Beijing by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It's day two of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China, . and on Friday he and President Xi Jinping held their summit. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the China Development Bank will also launch a scheme to jointly finance infrastructure projects in third countries, Kyodo News reported.

"These interactions will help to further strengthen our trade and investment ties, and cooperation in new areas such as healthcare, digital technologies, agriculture and food processing, disaster risk reduction and disaster resilient infrastructure".

Abe told Li that Japan will end official development assistance to China, which Tokyo has continued since the year after the two countries signed the bilateral Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978, after implementing a new assistance program this fiscal year.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, speaks next to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on October 26, 2018.

"Both Japan and China are being targeted by the US", Koichi Nakano, professor of political science, at Tokyo's Sophia University told CNN.

The dispute over who owned the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, led to a rapid chilling of diplomatic relations culminating in that chilly meeting between Abe and Xi in 2014. Vijay Gokhale, India's Foreign Secretary, said that the meeting between Abe and Xi Jinping would have no bearing on his summit with Modi.

"From competition to co-existence, Japan and China bilateral relations have entered a new phase", Mr Abe said at a briefing.

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The agreements announced in Beijing include a three-year currency swap agreement of up to 3.4 trillion yen ($30.4 billion). Japan has stressed that such cooperation can only happen when projects meet global standards.

The bilateral agreement covered a range of issues such as counter-terrorism operations, narcotics trading, intelligence sharing, natural disaster relief efforts as well as China's construction activities in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).

There are also plans for a wider regional economic partnership and a special trade zone linking up China, Japan and South Korea.

Experts here also pointed out that the improvement of ties between the two countries is particularly significant under the current circumstances with rising trade protectionism in the world. "Japan today is one of the most trusted partners in India's economic and technological modernisations and one of the top investors in India", he pointed out.

According to Abe, relations between the two countries are in the "abnormal state".

Abe is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Thursday afternoon, the first time a Japanese Prime Minister has visited China since 2011.

During Mr Abe's visit, the leaders will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of a treaty between the two countries that was meant to set the tone for their relations following the war.

While US presidents and their policies come and go, deep-running disagreements between China and Japan over history and territory remain hugely divisive and have yet to be resolved.