Chinese FM urges 'new future' for China-Japan ties

Jeannie Matthews
April 16, 2018

Kono met Wang in China in January when he became the first Japanese foreign minister to visit the country in almost two years.

His visit is also seen as paving a way towards Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wish to host Chinese Premier Li Keqiang next month for a trilateral summit including South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Kim is expected to meet US President Donald Trump in May or June. China's bid to fix relations comes as the US threatens trade sanctions and a renewed emphasis on Taiwan ties. Since taking office at the height of the dispute, Abe has sought rapprochement with Japan's largest trading partner.

Wang also said he will explain the situation in North Korea following talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Beijing late last month. Mr Kono stressed that Japan and China share the same goal on North Korea. Coast guard and military ships from both countries continue to tail one another around the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan. Now, China has an added incentive to fix ties with Japan, after a series of surprises from Trump on North Korea, Taiwan and trade sanctions.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says he has reconfirmed the Japanese government's willingness to improve bilateral ties. The TPP, which Trump withdrew from soon after taking office past year, includes 11 Pacific Rim nations, but not China.

Noting that this year marks 40 years since the signing of a bilateral peace and friendship treaty, Kono told Wang, "I want us to rebuild a relationship that lives up to the name of 'peace and friendship'". Recent polls show public support for his cabinet has fallen below disapproval.

Abe's sliding ratings are raising doubts over whether he can win a third three-year term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader in a September vote he needs to win to stay in office or whether he might even resign before the party election. "So they can use ties with Japan as a form of insurance".

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