China, Japan vow to forge closer ties at ‘historic turning point’

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According to Abe, former residents of the Islands for the second year fly there planes and visit the graves of ancestors, "in the direction of implement moved and the question on joint economic activity".

"Important universal issues including for example human rights and freedom of the press, those important principles and our position on those issues will not be compromised", Osuga said. Six years after the dispute over the contested East China Sea islands - known as the Senkaku in Japan, and the Diaoyu in China - the Chinese navy has kept up the pressure, sending the same number of coast guard vessels into the waters off the islands as it did in 2017, the Japanese official said.

Gui Yongtao, an associate professor at Peking University's School of International Studies and a specialist in Chinese-Japanese relations, said: "We haven't solved our problems with Japan".

The relationship has rapidly warmed up as Trump has slapped massive tariffs on China while also targeting Japanese exports in his effort to cut United States trade deficits, despite touting his personal bonds with Abe and Xi.

President Xi said that the worldwide situation is changing and emphasized that the two countries are increasingly dependent on one another.

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Abe, who returned to power in 2012 when Sino-Japanese ties were in tatters due to a feud over East China Sea islands, has met Chinese President Xi Jinping many times since their first chilly conversation in 2014 on the sidelines of a regional summit in Beijing. "Whenever they feel the need to take it out, I'm sure they will do that".

Editor's note: When then Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei visited China in Sept 1972, China donated a pair of pandas to Japan.

The agreements were signed as Asia's two biggest economies looked to further build relations and trust against a backdrop of trade friction with the United States.

Analysts say that China seeks Japanese companies to participate in its Belt and Road projects, especially in the financial sphere, to counter allegations that Beijing is deliberately pursuing "debt trap" diplomacy as tool for exercising political control in developing countries.

Experts here noted that the visit is expected to promote and open up new scope for bilateral and multilateral cooperation. "The two countries have been without a peace treaty for more than 70 years", he said.

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He said the foremost of these would be how to leverage Japan as a development aid partner for India's economic modernisation and flagship development programmes such as Skill India, Make in India, and Digital India, as also the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail project. The Hollywood Reporter said China has imported a total of 12 Japanese films during the first three quarter of 2018.

Abe expressed hopes for closer ties and a shift in bilateral relations from an age of "competition to cooperation", an apparent reference to rifts that until recently have muted Japanese business interests in China.

Diplomatic observers said the spat between China and the U.S. provided an excuse for Beijing to get closer to Tokyo, but said that tensions between the two could still erupt.

The leaders will discuss a range of regional and global issues, including North Korea's denuclearisation.

"Abe is thinking of a long time frame, of building a framework where China and Japan can work together and live together as neighbors without conflict", Vogel said.

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