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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Japan’s Premier Takes Optimistic View of Meeting With China’s Leader......

BEIJING — Striking an upbeat note, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan said Tuesday that he believed his country and China had taken a major step forward in repairing relations, and that from now on there should be frequent dialogue between them.
Mr. Abe, speaking in public for the first time since he met on Monday with China’s president,Xi Jinping, said that for the sake of the Asia-Pacific region, the onus was on both countries to work toward a “mutually beneficial” relationship based on strategic interests.
“Japan and China, we need each other,” Mr. Abe told a news conference at the close here of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting, attended by leaders of 21 countries. “We are in a way inseparably bound together.
After the meeting between Mr. Abe and Mr. Xi, which was intended to defuse tensions that had threatened to set off conflict and inflamed nationalist sentiments in two of Asia’s wealthiest countries, the nations put different spins on the outcome.
Mr. Abe, in his search for the positive, said there should be “dialogue again and again.”
In contrast, the Chinese news media, while showing a more moderate attitude toward the territorial claims that erupted more than two years ago over islands in the East China Sea, continued assigning blame.
Pointing the finger at Japan, the state-run news agency Xinhua quoted Mr. Xi as saying: “Severe difficulties have emerged in Sino-Japanese relations in recent years, and the rights and wrongs behind them are crystal clear.”
Mr. Abe said he had requested that Mr. Xi push forward plans for a hotline connecting the two countries to help prevent their vessels in the East China Sea from getting dangerously close to one another.
The crisis over the islands, known as the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan, began in September 2012 when the Japanese governmentpurchased them from a private owner.
The Chinese, who claim the islands were wrongfully taken from them by Japan at the end of the 19th century, sent squadrons of paramilitary vessels into the waters around the islands, and Japanese Coast Guard boats fended them off in what became a cat-and-mouse game.
In the past several months, the tensions on the seas have moderated as quiet talks on developing the hotline began.
Turning to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which the United States is negotiating with 11 countries in the region, Mr. Abe said that he could see the “exit in sight” and that he was determined to press for an early resolution of the drawn-out talks.
The Obama administration has been urging Japan, which would be a central member of the pact, to reduce its high tariffs on agricultural products.
In a disappointment for the administration, Mr. Abe, a conservative politician who relies on a rural constituency, pledged to deliver on the tariffs but so far has failed to do so. The long-delayed completion of the pact, which excludes China, has been billed by the administration as a significant part of its shift to Asia.
Under Mr. Abe, Japan has maintained good relations with the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, and has managed to keep up the relationship even though Japan went along with international sanctions against Russia over its actions this year in Ukraine.
At his news conference, Mr. Abe said that he had held a “tête-à-tête” with Mr. Putin during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and that they had discussed concluding a Japanese-Russian peace treaty in time for the 70th anniversary in 2015 of the end of World War II.
Even as China and Russia draw closer, the relations between Japan and Russia have also developed, prompted by a mutual desire to stop China from becoming a regional superpower, analysts say. A peace treaty would help bind the two countries as a balance to China’s rise.
In the last few months, Russian and Japanese diplomats have been working on ending a territorial dispute over the Kurile Islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan, which the Soviet Union secured near the end of World War II. Japan claims them as its territory.
A resolution of that dispute would pave the way for a formal World War II peace treaty.