Modi's Japan visit aimed at boosting strategic global partnership (Curtainraiser)

Shinzo Abe attends at the ASEM leaders summit in Brussels Belgium Friday. Francois Lenoir, Reuters

Abe is the first Japanese Prime Minister to make an official visit to Beijing in 7 years amid thawing relations between the two countries.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed here on October 26 that bilateral relations should be switched from competition to cooperation toward a new era.

During formal talks on Monday in Tokyo, Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe will discuss progress on a range of projects, collaboration on projects in third countries along the "Asia-Africa" growth corridor and cooperation on the "connectivity, economic and geostrategic" aspects of the Indo-Pacific region, the Foreign Secretary said.

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".

Efforts in advancing China-Japan ties should "persevere unremittingly to prevent the appearance of new twists and turns" so that previous efforts did not go to waste, said Li at a joint briefing with Abe on Friday.

Nishimura said Abe told Premier Li during their meeting that there would be "no genuine improvement" in bilateral ties unless there was "stability in the East China Sea".

Also Friday, the central banks of the two countries signed a three-year, bilateral currency swap agreement enabling the two sides to swap up to 200 billion yuan (about $28.8 billion) for 3.4 trillion yen.

Abe expressed hopes for closer ties and a shift in bilateral relations from an age of "competition to cooperation", an apparent reference to rifts that until recently have muted Japanese business interests in China.




How do China and Japan get along? "Now that relations between the two countries have returned to a normal track, we would like to achieve win-win outcomes by stably developing our ties in the long term", Li said, emphasizing that there would be a particular focus on economic and trade cooperation. Japan is also at the forefront of engaging in our national initiatives, such as "Make in India", "Skill India", "Digital India", "Start Up India", etc, Mr Modi said.

Abe told a news conference that, "Japan and China are strong partners and will not be a threat to each other".

"(Japan) is determined to settle the abduction, nuclear and missile issues as well as the unhappy past and normalize diplomatic relations (with Pyongyang)", Prime Minister Abe said.

China and Japan commemorated the 40 years to the treaty of peace and friendship between the two countries. Although Japan's alliance with the US keeps the nation in lockstep with Washington on most geopolitical issues, Abe has moved to shore up economic ties with China - its biggest trading partner.

According to Abe, relations between the two countries are in the "abnormal state". This is the first official visit to China by a sitting Japanese prime minister in seven years, other than to attend a multilateral meeting.

The move triggered anti-Japan demonstrations across China, and things worsened after Abe - who was subsequently described as an "unwelcome person" - visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which commemorates Japan's 2.5 million war dead.

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.

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