Japan, China agree to mutual official visits by Abe, Xi

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged a year ago to reset the sometimes touchy relationship between Asia's two largest economic powers.

Japan is to propose setting up a framework to discuss trade issues with the U.S. in a summit next week, in the hopes of persuading it to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Nikkei newspaper said yesterday.

China's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, is the first Chinese foreign minister to visit Japan in a bilateral context in nine years.

During the summit, Abe is likely to explain to Trump Japan's plans to boost direct investment to the U.S., the Asahi newspaper said yesterday.

However, Kono warned there would be "no true improvement of Japan-China relations without stability in the East China Sea".

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The world's second and third largest economies have a fraught relationship, complicated by longstanding maritime disputes and Japan's wartime legacy.

Tokyo also hopes to expand its exchanges with China to stay relevant in increasing worldwide efforts to engage with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Although Trump ordered that conditions for the United States to rejoin the TPP be investigated, he may demand the opening of negotiations on a Japan-U.S. FTA in addition to the reduction of the U.S. trade deficit with Japan. Kono, who visited Beijing in January, stressed that the two countries share the same goal on North Korea. "We confirmed that we shall continue our close coordination while also completely implementing related UN Security Council resolutions to realise the irreversible, verifiable and complete denuclearisation of North Korea and its missiles".

"Since previous year, Japan has, in relations with China, displayed a positive message and friendly attitude", Wang said at the meeting, adding that he hoped that the visit would help the two countries move towards better ties.

Wang said any parties, including Japan, welcome the recent important changes on the peninsula.

Beijing and Tokyo last held high-level economic meetings in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and suspended the mechanism due to disputes, including the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands-known as the Diaoyu Islands in China.