January 6, 2018 3:31 am JST

Shinzo Abe seeks improved Sino-Japanese ties in 2018

Prime minister also looks ahead to TPP 11 signing in a New Year's speech

TOKYO -- Japan's prime minister on Friday expressed hope for better relations with China in 2018, which marks the 40th anniversary of a peace treaty between the two nations.

"I want to make this year one when people in both countries are able to recognize a major improvement in Sino-Japanese relations," Shinzo Abe said in a speech at a New Year's event co-sponsored by Tokyo-based Jiji Press.

Abe's government is signaling a willingness to cooperate on China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative and seeks to initiate mutual state visits this year by him and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The prime minister also said he hopes to see the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment pact signed this year, calling economic partnerships an "engine" of Abenomics, his plan to rev up Japanese growth.

Also on Friday, Abe and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto agreed in a telephone conversation to cooperate on bringing the TPP 11 to fruition soon. Tokyo's point man on the Pacific accord, Toshimitsu Motegi, will arrive in Mexico on Monday to discuss remaining issues in the negotiations.

Japan seeks to sign the TPP 11 by early March and have it take effect in 2019.

(Nikkei)

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