TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping are to hold their first summit next week, reports said Friday, after presiding over two years of animosity between Asia’s two biggest economies.
The countries have “agreed to arrange a summit next week” in Beijing on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, Japan’s national broadcaster NHK said. Private network Fuji TV had a similar story.
“Now that we have shared understanding toward a summit meeting, we will start making concrete arrangements for it,” a Japanese government source was quoted as telling the broadcaster.
Tokyo has long been pressing for such a meeting but Beijing has resisted, with the two sides locked in a territorial dispute and still at odds over World War II history.
As a condition for the meet, China, which has painted Abe as a dangerous revisionist, had reportedly been demanding that he swear not to repeat a visit to a Tokyo shrine that honours fallen soldiers, including a number of war criminals. It has also been calling for Japan to acknowledge the existence of a dispute over the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands, which it calls the Diaoyus, where paramilitary vessels from both sides have sparred over recent years.
Japan has until now rebuffed the calls, but similarly worded statements issued Friday suggested there had been some accommodation on the thorny island issue, although it appeared to fall short of an explicit acknowledgement.
“The two sides have acknowledged that different positions exist between them regarding the tensions which have emerged in recent years over the Diaoyu Islands and some waters in the East China Sea,” the English-language version from China said.
They “agreed to prevent the situation from aggravating through dialogue and consultation and establish crisis management mechanisms to avoid contingencies.”