Japan-China attempt to attain common ground on sensitive issues

Kono is on an official visit to China from January 27 to 28. The latter welcomes this, pointing out the warming the relationship between the two countries.

Last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a policy address in which he voiced the hope of Japan and China working together "to meet the growing infrastructure demand in Asia", an allusion to Japanese willingness to take part in the China-founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that was boycotted by the United States, Japan's ally.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold talks with Kono during his stay in Beijing and exchange views on China-Japan ties as well as issues of common concern, Hua said.

The Chinese minister also called for Japan "not to slack or fall back, and work together with China to meet each other halfway".

"We must not only manage our bilateral relations, but also work together to tackle the problems in the world, in particular the issue of North Korea that affects worldwide society as a whole".

Since Xi has already shown strong leadership in China, he "no longer has to do so", Yoshizaki said, adding that Japan is "in the same situation as China".

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. Sunday's meeting followed a January 11 incident in which a Chinese military submarine entered East China Sea waters near the Senkaku Islands, which China claims as the Diaoyu.

At the Kono-Wang meeting, the Japanese official made it clear that Japan wants movement "to improve overall ties this year".

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Japan is hoping that might change this year as the two nations prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of a Japan-China friendship treaty.

China's Foreign Minister Wang also kept his cards close to his chest.

Wang said "many disturbances and obstacles remain" for relations between the two countries and that they were now "like a boat going against a current - if there is no progress then things go backwards".

The two sides agreed the meeting should be held "as soon as possible", the Chinese ministry said without mentioning the venue.

The uninhabited islets, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, are administered by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing, where they are known as the Diaoyu Islands.

During the meetings, Kono lodged a protest over Beijing's decision earlier this month to send a nuclear-powered submarine to the area, Kyodo News said.

Japan is also pushing to host a trilateral summit with leaders from China and South Korea to discuss a range of regional issues, including North Korea's nuclear program.

As for the trilateral summits, South Korea was the previous host in 2015.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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