China, Japan seek better ties even as they remain apart on isles

By Kiyoshi Takenaka | Sept. 5, 2016 / Reuters

China and Japan agreed on Monday to improve relations but still lectured each other over maritime rows that remains a recurrent flashpoint.

Ties between the two countries, which have Asia’s largest economies, have long been overshadowed by arguments over their painful wartime history and a territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

“We must make efforts with China to improve relations from a big-picture perspective,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was hosting a summit of the Group of 20 big economies in Hangzhou, China.

Xi told Abe that the two neighbours should “put aside disruptions” and bring their relations back on the normal track as soon as possible, as ties are still “troubled by complications at times”, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

“Both sides should bolster their sense of responsibility and crisis awareness, and work to build on the positive elements of bilateral ties while putting a lid on negative ones, in order to ensure stable improvement of relations,” Xi said.

The two agreed to accelerate talks on a communications mechanism between their militaries, Abe told a news conference.

But both leaders stuck to their positions over the dispute over tiny isles in the East China Sea, controlled by Japan, which calls them the Senkaku, but claimed by Beijing as the Diaoyu.

Abe called recent incursions by Chinese vessels near the isles “regrettable,” said Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda. Read more…

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