MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) — The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced today that Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi has met with Japanese National Security Advisor Shotaro Yachi and finalized an agreement on the improvement of relations between the two countries.
“In recent months, the two sides have conducted rounds of consultations through the diplomatic channel to overcome political obstacles in bilateral relations,” the statement said, continuing that “the two sides reached a four-point principled agreement on handling and improving” relations.
The AP has said that Yachi, the head of Japan’s National Security Council, was sent to Beijing on Thursday for talks, in what it reported as a precursor to a possible meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next week.
The two leaders have not met since they both assumed office in 2012. Abe met with last Chinese President Hu Jintao during his previous stint as president in 2006 in what was hailed as an “icebreaking” trip to Beijing.
However, relations between China and Japan have soured since then. The countries are in dispute about eight uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, which are part of Japanese territory, but to which the Chinese believe they have a legitimate claim for sovereignty. Today’s statement “acknowledged that different positions exist” about the land.
Another area of disagreement was Shinzo Abe’s visit to the Yasakuni Shrine in Tokyo in December 2012, where Japan’s 2.5 mln military casualties and 14 Class-A war criminals are honored. In March this year China Daily reported a Chinese spokesperson as saying, “The Japanese leader…has compromised the interests of Japan's neighbors and hurt the feelings of the people of Asian countries victimized in World War II.” In August this year, on the 69th anniversary of Japan’s World War II defeat, Abe did not visit the shrine, a move seen as seeking to calm relations.
In a press conference yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang was asked about rumors in the Japanese media that the two sides had agreed to meet “on the sidelines” of the APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting. Gang replied that the Chinese hoped to work with the Japanese to “create the necessary environment for contact between leaders of the two countries,” but that his side wanted Japan to “make efforts to improve bilateral relations with concrete action.”
Reuters reports that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said today, "Both Japan and China are coming to the view that it would benefit not just the two countries but regional stability if a summit is held," added that his government is making such arrangements.