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International relations

Merkel courts Abe as Berlin rethinks China-centric stance

German industries now urge caution toward state-dominated economy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a joint press conference Monday in Tokyo. Both have been vocal advocates of multilateralism and free trade. (Photo by Yuki Nakao)

TOKYO -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Japan Monday for the first time in three years as Berlin looks to dial back a diplomatic and economic strategy heavily focused on China and strengthen ties with a like-minded free-trade advocate.

"I am very happy that you traveled all the way here, just for Japan," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the beginning of their meeting. The chancellor, who has visited China 11 times since 2005 but Japan only five times, will head straight back to Germany on Tuesday without stopping in other Asian countries.

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