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Politics

Japan and China orchestrate warmer ties after 'long detour'

Cooperation ranges from development and investment to defense hotline

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Akasaka Palace state guest house in Tokyo.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed to boost economic and financial cooperation during a bilateral summit here on Wednesday carefully choreographed to cement an improved relationship between their countries.

Tokyo and Beijing also agreed to create a communications hotline for senior defense officials in order to prevent or defuse any accidental incidents between their armed forces. Territorial disputes have chilled Japan-China relations.

"We achieved results on a decade-long agenda," Abe told reporters after the summit. The two leaders met earlier Wednesday in a trilateral gathering that included South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

"It is hard to deny that the Japan-China relationship had taken a long detour," Li said during the first visit by a Chinese premier in eight years. "But recently we have seen some improvement. China wants to work together with Japan to restore the relationship to the correct path, and to avoid a major reversion."

Beijing and Tokyo signed 10 documents aimed at bolstering political and economic ties, including a memorandum to cooperate on business development in third countries. Japan and China will conduct a forum in which the public and private sectors are asked to participate.

"The first forum will be held during my upcoming visit to Beijing," Abe said.

The leaders addressed financial cooperation as well.

"Both countries will consider setting up a yuan clearing bank in Japan," Li said.

China also will grant Japan a 200 billion yuan ($31.4 billion) investment quota under the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program for the first time, the premier said. The program lets overseas financial institutions use offshore yuan to buy securities in mainland China.

Regarding North Korea, both sides reiterated their commitment to work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Li officially invited Abe to visit Beijing, and the prime minister accepted.

"We want to build a relationship where leaders of the two countries can visit each other easily," Abe said.

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