Japan PM Abe meets China’s Xi in Indonesia

Japan PM Abe meets China’s Xi in Indonesia

Tensions between Asia’s two biggest economies have flared in recent years.

By (Reuters)

Published: Wed 22 Apr 2015, 2:36 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:40 PM

Tokyo/Jakarta – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a summit in Indonesia on Wednesday, the latest sign of a thaw in relations between the Asian rivals.

The meeting took place despite an awkward diplomatic backdrop.

Speaking at the conference earlier, Abe warned powerful nations against imposing on the weak.

Xi and Abe held talks in the early evening in a meeting room at the Jakarta Convention Centre, the venue of the Asian-African summit. “It is ongoing,” a Japanese foreign ministry spokesman said after the talks started.

Abe and Xi left the room about half an hour later.

Tensions between Asia’s two biggest economies have flared in recent years due to feuds over wartime history as well as territorial rows and regional rivalry. Memories of Japan’s past military aggression run deep in China and Beijing has repeatedly urged Japan to face up to history.

But the meeting on Wednesday could promote a cautious rapprochement that began when Abe and Xi met at a summit in Beijing late last year.

“The country (China) is shifting to a policy of stressing that it hopes for stable relations with its neighbours,” said Hiroko Maeda, a research fellow at the PHP Institute in Tokyo.

Earlier in the day, Abe said: “We should never allow to go unchecked the use of force by the mightier to twist the weaker around.

Xi had spoken at the conference earlier but did not make any reference to relations with Japan.

Reconciliation and Trust

China is locked in territorial rows with several smaller countries in the South China Sea while Japan has a separate feud over islets in the East China Sea.

Abe often warns against the use of force to change the status quo and says the rule of law should prevail - both seen as implicit criticism of China’s assertiveness.

Abe’s stance on Japan’s wartime past is especially sensitive this year, when he plans to issue a statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two.

Abe’s speech in Jakarta will be followed by a speech to the USCongress next week and a statement in August marking the anniversary of the end of World War Two. 

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