Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wants “to start a new Japan-China era” during bilateral talks with China’s President Xi Jinping in Osaka on Thursday.
The two leaders met at a hotel in the city on the sidelines of the summit of Group of 20 major economies, which starts Friday. During the meeting, Abe invited Xi to Japan as a state guest the next time the cherry blossoms bloom, seeking to take the Japan-China relationship to the next level. “It’s a good idea to visit Japan next spring,” Xi answered.
Xi also highlighted the need to promote free trade. “The relationship between China and Japan is at a new historical starting line,” he said.
The bilateral meeting was followed by a dinner where the two leaders had “frank discussions,” according to a Japanese government official.
Xi’s visit to Japan is the first since he took office as president in March 2013. Xi arrived at Kansai International Airport in Osaka on Thursday. A visit by Xi to Japan had not been realized before now, due partly to issues over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
This is the first time for a Chinese head of state to visit Japan in nine years since 2010 — when then Chinese President Hu Jintao came to Japan.