Abe-Xi talks indicate divisions on key issues

 HAMBURG (The Japan News/ANN) - The Saturday meeting between the leaders of Japan and China, on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 20 major and emerging economies, was held in this German city amid a mood of cooperation, but there seems to have been no concrete progress on issues such as the Senkaku Islands and North Korea.

The Saturday meeting between the leaders of Japan and China, on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 20 major and emerging economies, was held in this German city amid a mood of cooperation, but there seems to have been no concrete progress on issues such as the Senkaku Islands and North Korea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an approach to Chinese President Xi Jinping by expressing his cooperation in China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, while Xi showed a positive stance toward the improvement of the bilateral relationship.

The Japanese government intends to continue dialogue between the leaders and secure a base for the improvement of bilateral relations. However, many issues remain between the countries that will be difficult to resolve, including the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

“The [giant] panda cub born at Ueno Zoo is growing well. I’d like to further enhance the momentum for the improvement of bilateral ties with an eye on the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty next year and on into the future.”

Abe opened the bilateral talks with Xi with this comment, expressing his strong desire for the improvement of ties. 

It represented the Japanese leader’s strong desire to talk directly to Xi about cooperation in the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which is strongly backed by Xi himself, and urged Xi to facilitate reciprocal visits between them for bilateral talks.

The Japanese government is making efforts to improve the bilateral relationship with China, as it regards close cooperation with that nation to be indispensable given its influence over North Korea, which has been pushing ahead with its nuclear and missile development.

Japan is threatened by North Korea, so it intends to “avoid conflict with China, which is another unstable factor for Japan’s security,” according to a senior Foreign Ministry official. The Japanese government also expects economic and other benefits through improved ties with China.

China will hold its Chinese Communist Party convention, conducted every five years, in autumn this year, and it intends to stabilize the bilateral relationship with Japan to avoid diplomatic friction as much as possible, observers said.

There has been no significant clash in the bilateral relationship between Japan and China in recent years. The cooperative mood in the Abe-Xi talks was boosted by “an environment that is relatively calm and easy to talk about the improvement of bilateral relations,” according to a staff member at an investigative and research institute related to the Chinese government.

However, there are many issues to be addressed for the improvement of bilateral relations.

Chinese government ships have repeatedly entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. In their talks, Abe urged Xi to make efforts to improve the situation, but it is believed they were not able to reach a compromise.

With respect to the leaders’ reciprocal visits for bilateral talks, Xi nodded while listening to Abe’s proposal, but they did not reach an agreement on specific items, including a date for a trilateral meeting among leaders of Japan, China and South Korea.

Concerning North Korea, a key issue between the countries, Abe urged Xi to apply more pressure on Pyongyang, while Xi clearly expressed opposition to sanctions unilaterally imposed by Japan and others, highlighting the difference in their stances toward North Korea.

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