TOKYO -- Seeing a key partner in Beijing to rein in the rogue state of North Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made conciliatory gestures to China for the 45th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations.
Abe attended a ceremony sponsored by the Chinese Embassy marking the occasion here Thursday. It was the first time in 15 years that a sitting Japanese leader attended the event -- and the first time under the Abe government.
Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also sent congratulatory messages via telegraph in the first such exchange in a decade. Li's message said China values relations with Japan highly.
The Japanese leader said at the event that he hoped "to welcome Premier Li to Japan this year and spur the development of our relationship" with bilateral meetings. He also expressed an intention to host a three-way summit that also includes South Korea this year.
Abe said that next it would be his turn to visit China and that he would then "like to have President Xi Jinping visit Japan."
"By repeating mutual visits, I would like to advance overall Japan-China relations," Abe said, apparently in hopes of enlisting Beijing's help in dealing with North Korea.