Abe to visit China next month?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (Reuters pic)

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with President Xi Jinping to work toward arranging a visit to China next month, he told reporters Wednesday.

Abe was speaking after his first meeting with Xi in 10 months, held on the sidelines of an economic forum in Vladivostok, as the two continue to try to rebuild a relationship rocked in 2012 by a long-running territorial dispute.

Next month marks the 40th anniversary of a treaty of peace and friendship between what are now Asia’s two largest economies.

“He told me that he would welcome my visiting China as soon as next month.

“By raising ties to the next level, I want to construct a foundation for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia,” Abe said in comments carried live on the website of Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

While Abe has visited China for multilateral summits, any trip specifically for a bilateral meeting would be the first since he took office in 2012, when the relationship was in its worst state in decades.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Japan in May this year, the first such event in about eight years.

Abe said he had agreed with Xi that they shared the goal of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and said he had gained Chinese support for his position of trying to quickly resolve the problem of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea.

Xi told Abe that ties between their two countries were on a normal footing and that he wanted to expand the relationship greatly, Kyodo News reported.