The diplomatic minuet between China and Japan has ended amicably — at least for the time being.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping held an informal sidebar chat Wednesday during the Asian-African summit in Jakarta that appears to have eased a recent build-up in bilateral tensions. It was the first meeting between the two leaders in five months.
Reuters said Abe told reporters after the 30-minute meeting with Xi that the two agreed to work for better relations and contribute to regional stability by promoting “mutually beneficial strategic ties”.
Noting that Sino-Japanese ties had begun to improve when he met Xi late last year, Abe said: “We want to make the improving trend in the bilateral relations solid.”
The meeting occurred despite several moves on the Japanese side that irked China. Abe, on Tuesday, sent a ritual offering to Japan’s war-linked Yasukuni Shrine. Scores of MPs from Abe’s ruling party and opposition legislators also visited the Shinto shrine on Wednesday.
The basic tensions underlying Sino-Japanese relations remain. Abe in his speech in at the Africa-Asia confab cautioned powerful nations against imposing their will on the weak in a veiled allusion to Chinese actions in the South China Sea. At the same time, he noted Japan’s remorse over World War II without issuing a fresh apology to Asian victims of Japanese imperialism.