Japan to propose new framework for trade talks

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Japan's Kyodo News and NHK reported that Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Japan on Sunday and held talks with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono to discuss ways to improve China-Japan ties and to enhance their cooperation on the North Korean nuclear issue.

"I would like to regard (Mr Wang's visit) as a major step forward in our efforts towards improving Japan-China relations", Mr Kono said at the start of their meeting.

Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is likely to lead the Japanese delegation, with his counterpart likely to be U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the paper said, without citing sources.

While ties between Tokyo and Beijing have a troubled history, relations seem to have strengthened following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's diplomatic visit in January.

China showed its influence over its reclusive ally when President Xi Jinping hosted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife in Beijing last month.

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Since the Japanese government purchased most of the Senkaku Islands from Japanese owner in 2012, China has frequently sent its ships into Japanese territorial waters around them, raising fears that unintended conflict between Japan and China could be sparked in the area.

Japan is to propose setting up a framework to discuss trade issues with the USA in a summit next week, in the hopes of persuading it to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Nikkei newspaper said yesterday.

Japanese officials said Kono and Wang agreed on the importance of maintaining the world's system of free trade.

"Since past year, Japan has, in relations with China, displayed a positive message and friendly attitude", Wang said at the meeting, adding that he hoped that the visit would help the two countries move towards better ties.

Mr Wang said his visit was China's answer to "positive" messages and policies by Japan. Although Trump ordered that conditions for the United States to rejoin the TPP be investigated, he may demand the opening of negotiations on a Japan-U.S. FTA in addition to the reduction of the U.S. trade deficit with Japan.

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