Disputing Asian neighbors Japan and China held ministerial talks on Saturday, the first since Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a personal visit to a controversial war shrine last year. The meeting – which happened on the sidelines of a ministerial session of the Asia-Pacific Economic and Cooperation forum in Qingdao, China – suggests that there might be some easing in the relations between Asia’s two largest economies.
Chinas Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng and Japanese Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi spoke for around met 20 minutes between sessions in the Asian forum, this confirmed by officials from both countries. The meeting was not significant for the agreements done within the meeting itself, but for the fact that ministers from the two disputing nations agreed to meet at all.
In December 2013, Abe personally made a trip to the highly controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japan’s war dead, including World War II war criminals. China took offense – as it has traditionally done with issues regarding Japan’s aggression during World War II – and relations between both nations soured and remained tempestuous, especially over Japan’s administration of a chain of uninhabited islands called the Senkaku islands by the Japanese but claimed by China as the Diaoyu islands.
An official at the APEC session said that the meeting may go a long way to prepare the Chinese public for Abe’s visit to China in November when Beijing hosts this year’s APEC leaders’ summit. A statement released by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Saturday still claimed that Japan’s actions had spoiled relations between the two nations and resulted in “lost opportunities for cooperation.” The meeting was successful in that the two nations agreed to “strengthen pragmatic exchanges in the field of energy conservation and environmental protection,” the Chinese statement said. China also declared hope that relations between the nations would improve and “create favorable conditions for the resumption of Sino-Japanese economic and trade relations.”
[via The Wall Street Journal]
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