OSAKA, Japan (AFP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping has agreed “in principle” to pay a state visit to Japan next spring at the invitation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a further thaw in bilateral ties.
Relations between Asia’s two biggest economies have warmed in recent years after suffering in 2012 when Tokyo “nationalised” disputed islands claimed by Beijing.
Abe visited Beijing last year – the first official visit by a Japanese prime minister since 2011.
Abe extended the spring invitation to Xi during a meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on Thursday.
“I want to enhance Japan-China relations to the next height by welcoming President Xi Jinping to Japan during cherry blossom next year,” Abe said.
Xi agreed “in principle” to the invitation, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
The last Chinese president to make a state visit to Japan was Hu Jintao in 2008. Before that, Jiang Zemin visited in 1998.
Xi and Abe agreed to a “10-point consensus” to promote “the healthy development of bilateral relations,” Xinhua said, citing a senior Chinese diplomat.
The world’s second- and third-largest economies have a fraught relationship, complicated by longstanding maritime disputes and Japan’s wartime legacy.
The thaw has accelerated in recent months as both countries face trade battles with United States President Donald Trump.