China-Japan relations

It’s ‘now or never’ to improve ties with China, says leading figure in Japan’s ruling party

Toshihiro Nikai tells Beijing’s party school that the two countries should develop a new kind of relationship

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 December, 2017, 4:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 December, 2017, 10:32pm

A Japanese ruling party heavyweight called for future-oriented cooperative relations with China, before a planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In a rare speech given by a Japanese lawmaker at the Chinese Communist Party’s school in Beijing, Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said on Thursday that it was “now or never” for the two countries to open a new type of relationship as both sides had “strong leaders” .

Nikai said China and Japan, the world’s second and third-largest economies, had a great responsibility for shaping the future together, and that the two countries under a “new era” should move on from a “mutually beneficial relationship” to one that could substantially contribute to peace and prosperity in Asia and beyond.

He said there was plenty of room for the two countries to cooperate in infrastructure projects in other parts of Asia, with Xi’s “Belt and Road Initiative” aimed at expanding land and maritime trade links in the region in mind.

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Speaking at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, he also cited intellectual property and the environment as other possible areas of cooperation.

Nikai, regarded as the No 2 man in the Japanese ruling party, was expected to meet Xi in the afternoon. He is on a six-day visit to China with other lawmakers from Japan’s ruling coalition. The trip ends on Friday.

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the two countries’ treaty of friendship and peace, and Japanese government officials are hoping to realise reciprocal visits by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Xi.

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Xi has not visited Japan since becoming Communist Party chief in November 2012.

For years, Sino-Japanese relations were bumpy due to a territorial disputes and disagreements over their wartime history.

But they have stabilised since Xi further consolidated his power during October’s twice-a-decade party congress and began his second five-year term as leader.