Can China and Japan bury the hatchet?

Minnie Murray
October 28, 2018

It is presumed that Japan is eager to partner with India in infrastructure projects to counter China's Belt and Road Initiatives in the region. Just $5 a month. For Japan, the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact by the Trump administration sent shock waves through Japan's government offices in Kasumigaseki.

For Japan politics and security expert Brad Glosserman, however, Abe is faced with a tough balancing act with the world's two largest economies.

"I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that his (Abe) visit to China will have no impact on India-Japan bilateral relationship..."

In addition to a joint infrastructure programme, Japan is expecting to commence negotiations with India on a deal wherein it will get access to India's military bases and vice versa.

The two countries agreed to discuss advanced technologies and issues related to patents and other intellectual property - a perennial bugbear for China's relations with all foreign investors. Li also indicated that Beijing wanted to lift the relationship to "a new phase".

The Trump administration has imposed huge trade tariffs which it says are in retaliation for other countries' unfair trade practices.

They reached consensus, Li said, that safeguarding long-term healthy and stable China-Japan ties was in accordance with the interests of both countries and the region and the world.

"On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the treaty, we need to adhere to the general direction of peace, friendship and cooperation and conform to the trend of the times so as to jointly build more mature, steady and progressive China-Japan ties", Li said.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said 500 business deals worth $18 billion had been signed between Chinese and Japanese companies during the visit, a reflection of the "bright prospects" for cooperation between the two countries. At the forum, Abe took the opportunity to once again emphasize the need to follow global standards for infrastructure projects and to take into account the financial position of recipient countries.

Abe also said Tokyo was "determined" to normalise diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, but only if preconditions were met, including denuclearisation and the release of kidnapped Japanese citizens.

During Mr Abe's visit, the leaders will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of a treaty between the two countries that was meant to set the tone for their relations following the war.

Abe's three-day trip, which began Thursday, sets up the possibility that Xi will visit Japan next year.

One notable area of tension was in the area of human rights.

"In fact, it's a common understanding among Japanese politicians as well as the Japanese people that enhancing relationship with China is very important", Akio Takahara, a professor at the University of Tokyo, told reporters at the Foreign Press Center of Japan. It is unclear what response Abe received.

"If you make a comparison, you will see that there are a number of areas of convergence, commonality and common vision", Gokhale said. Abe secured a commitment by China to review its ban on imports of Japanese food products, which had been driven by concerns about the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The North Korean conflict remains a contentious issue between China and Japan. The officials would also be discussing possible arrangement involving the loans of giant pandas.

Some other users urged caution during Abe's visit, accusing an "ambitious" Japan of being a two-faced neighbor.

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