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International relations

Japan and China try new approach to friendship, 40 years on

Abe faces diplomatic tests as he breaks from US-led policies

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping are exploring a more amicable approach to bilateral ties.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Forty years since signing a treaty of peace and friendship that promised mutual non-aggression, Japan and China are starting to explore a more nuanced diplomatic relationship that better suits the new realities of the region and the world but could also shake up the existing regional security structure.

The shift was visible when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept. 12. When Abe called on Xi to ease import restrictions for Japanese food, the Chinese leader replied with a smile that "Japanese rice is tasty" -- an unusual comment for a man so reserved about his personal opinions on Japan.

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