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US-China tensions make Japan's balancing act even harder

Tokyo has to improve ties with Beijing without angering Washington

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, is flanked by U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The U.S. and China have entered a long tunnel of conflict, while Japan and China are in transition from a long winter to spring. Japan and the U.S. have rarely moved in such opposite directions in their relations with China. Close attention should be paid to the effects this situation will have.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders during his visit to China on Dec. 23-25. Abe told Xi that Japan attaches great importance to Xi's planned state visit to Japan next spring, and Xi showed China's willingness to upgrade cooperation between the two nations, using the phrase "a new era."

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