Japan ruling-party heavyweight urges new type of ties with China

Kyodo News

Posted at Dec 28 2017 07:01 PM

BEIJING − A Japanese ruling party heavyweight on Thursday called for future-oriented cooperative relations with China, ahead of his meeting with President Xi Jinping.

Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said it is "now or never" for the two countries to open a new type of relationship as both sides have "strong leaders." Nikai made the comment in a rare speech given by a Japanese lawmaker at the Chinese Communist Party's school in Beijing to train future elites.

Nikai said China and Japan, the world's second- and third-largest economies, have great responsibility to shape the future together, and the two countries should move on in a "new era" from a "mutually beneficial relationship," to one that contributes substantially to peace and prosperity in Asia and beyond.

Nikai said there much scope for the two countries to cooperate in infrastructure projects in other parts of Asia, with Xi's One Belt, One Road initiative aimed at expanding land and maritime trade links in the region in mind.

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

Nikai, regarded as the No. 2 man in the Japanese ruling party, later met with Xi.

Nikai is on a six-day visit to China through Friday with other lawmakers of Japan's ruling coalition.

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

Since becoming head of the Communist Party in November 2012, Xi has never visited Japan.

For years, Sino-Japanese relations were bumpy due to a territorial dispute and disagreements over wartime history. But they have greatly stabilized since Xi further consolidated power in October's twice-a-decade congress of the party and began his second five-year term as leader.