Regarding the global free trade system, Abe said it is of great significance to reinforce economic order based on free and fair trade rules under the current circumstances.

In short, the Trump administration's eschewing of the American-built liberal world order for a realpolitik, transactional approach to foreign policy has inadvertently provided the foundation for Japan and China to move historical grievances to the wayside and return to their post-normalization dynamic of "hot economics/cold politics" known as Seikei Bunri/ 政経分離 in Japanese.

Japan and China, in building a strategic and mutually beneficial relationship, have the responsibility to properly deal with those issues and steadily develop their friendly and cooperative ties from the big picture, he noted.

In his policy speech, Abe also said he wants to close unfinished World War II diplomatic legacies by also aiming to normalize ties with North Korea and resolving territorial disputes and sign peace treaty with Russian Federation.

But even that agreement will reflect the two powers' rivalry. He also welcomed Japan's participation in China's Belt and Road Initiative.


President Xi said that the worldwide situation is changing and emphasized that the two countries are increasingly dependent on one another. "The healthy, steady and long-term development of China-Japan ties is in the fundamental interests of the two countries' people, and represents common expectations of the worldwide community". China is now the world's second largest economy and Japan the third. The last such visit was in late 2011.

In a speech to a business forum on Friday, Abe harked back to Japan's role in providing aid and private sector investment from the 1980s that helped turn China into an economic powerhouse.

"[ I think] China would like to warm relations with traditional rivals such as Japan and concentrate the diplomatic efforts on United States".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also agreed the two countries would work together to achieve denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula. But the Chinese do not seem overly concerned. "But it could not go far".

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.

Unlike the United States, Vogel said, Japan never harbored illusions that China would become like the West, an outlook that has led to more realistic expectations about the extent of a possible rapprochement.


"Our relationship has encountered a lot of obstacles", Xi said at the start of their talks.

But as Trump's tariffs bite, China has increasingly looked to Japan to serve as a hedge against growing USA protectionism.

After the enormity of Hiroshima-Nagasaki, the political leadership of Japan accepted what is known as the Yoshida doctrine, wherein Tokyo internalised its disastrous military adventurism and accepted a subaltern security-strategic relationship with the US - including protection under a nuclear umbrella. "That's nonnegotiable, and that's what Japan needs to protect while it improves its relationship with China and other countries". They are also expected to discuss North Korea and the U.S.

"The timing is very important", said Yasuhiro Matsuda, a professor at the University of Tokyo's Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia.

But China should not expect too much from that, at least in the short term, Vogel said.

"We are also discussing a Japanese high-tech amphibian aircraft also and I hope there will be progress made in this regard (during the summit)", Hiramatsu said.


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