Published: Mon, January 29, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

China Calls for Japan's Efforts to Jointly Advance Ties

China Calls for Japan's Efforts to Jointly Advance Ties

Mr Kono's trip to China was the first by a Japanese foreign minister since his predecessor Fumio Kishida visited in April 2016.

China and Japan plan to open a military hotline to ease tensions over disputed East China Sea islands, Beijing said on Sunday, after their top diplomats held rare talks aimed at warming chilly ties.

The two foreign ministers agreed that a trilateral summit should take place as soon as possible, they said in a statement released after their four-hour meeting.

"Not only do we need to manage our bilateral relations, but we also need to work together to deal with issues facing the entire globe, in particular the issue of North Korea, which is the matter at hand for worldwide society as a whole".

China and Japan are the world's second and third biggest economies, and relations have been tense for many years over numerous issues, in some cases dating back to Japan's invasion and subsequent occupation of China in the 1930s. It would also lay the groundwork for reciprocal visits by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Beijing and Chinese President Xi Jinping to Tokyo, Japan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Norio Maruyama said.

Frequent maritime patrols by both countries around disputed islets have always been a potential flashpoint and a major impediment to improved relations.

Kono, who arrived in Beijing on Saturday, noted the significance of this year as Japan and China mark the 40th anniversary of the signing in 1978 of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two nations.

Mr Xi and Mr Abe have yet to meet on their own soil since taking office.

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But Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Norio Maruyama conceded that the two countries had yet to agree on a timeline for implementing the concept, which has been under discussion for years.

China and Japan were improving their bilateral ties, Li told Kono, describing relations between the two countries as "barely warm, and still cool". Kono is on an official visit to China from January 27 to 28.

The foreign minister added that Chinese-Japanese relations are such that while both sides saw progress, they faced many obstacles.

He was alluding to a Japanese government exhibit which showcaes Tokyo's claims to the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Tokyo's decision to "nationalize" some of the islets in 2012 led to a major falling out and the relationship has been slow to recover.

China says that the islands have been part of its territory since ancient times, while Japan argues the islands have been under its control since 1895.

Kono lodged a protest about the approach earlier this month of a Chinese submarine towards what Japan considers its territorial waters near the islets.

A trilateral summit between the two countries and South Korea was scheduled for last December, but was postponed after the impeachment of the then-South Korean president Park Geun-Hye.

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