China, Japan leaders vow to open ‘new era’ on bilateral ties

The leaders of Japan and China agreed to boost bilateral ties and pledged to open a “new era” in their relations, media reports said on Friday.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invited Chinese President Xi Jinping for a state visit by 2020, Tokyo-based Kyodo news reported.

Making his first visit to Japan as president of China, Xi arrived in Osaka, Japan early Thursday to attend the G20 Summit, saying a visit to Japan when the “cherry blossoms bloom” would be a “great idea”, Kyodo said, citing Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura.

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

Xi, who met North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un last week, expressed strong support for progress in Tokyo-Pyongyang relations, a senior Japanese official told Kyodo under condition of anonymity.

Relations with China have “completely returned to normal,” Abe said, adding his country was eager to cooperate with China to raise ties to a “new dimension”.

The two leaders also discussed North Korea’s denuclearization and the pause in negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

Xi said he delivered Japan’s thoughts to Kim, Kyodo cited Nishimura saying, though he refused give further details on whether Xi mentioned the possibility of talks between Japan and North Korea.

Abe said any potential summit with Kim would be impossible without a guarantee of progress, Kyodo said. Abe had previously said talks with Kim would need to be without prior conditions.

U.S.-China trade war

Referring to the ongoing trade war with the U.S., Xi praised Japan’s cooperation against protectionism, and for Japan’s heavy blow to President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy that opposed globalization.

For his part, Abe urged Xi to amend trade practices which the U.S. and other countries considered unfair, such as allegedly stealing intellectual property and forcing technology transfer.

After roughly seven months, the leaders of two of the world’s super economies are set to meet Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, as global markets hope the meeting would help avoid further escalation between Washington and Beijing.

Hong Kong protests

Regarding ongoing protests in Hong Kong over a disputed extradition bill, Japan supported and “open and free” Hong Kong under the policy of “one country, two system”, Kyodo quoted Abe, who asked Xi to take additional measures to protect Human Rights.

Mass rallies have continued for weeks as protestors call on the local government to completely withdraw a now-suspended bill of an extradition law which may allow transfers of political criminals from Hong Kong to mainland China.

East China Sea

Referring to a dispute over Sensaku Island in the East China Sea, Abe requested Xi to stabilize the situation, Nishimura told Kyodo, adding that the leaders agreed on further work based on a 2008 bilateral accord on joint gas development.

Tension has escalated between Beijing and Tokyo as Abe’s predecessor Yoshihiko Noda decided to bring Sensaku under state control in 2012.

The island is currently controlled by Japan, though it is claimed by Beijing as Daioyu Island and by Taiwan as Diaoyu Tai Island. It boasts considerable potential for natural gas resources.