- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on its first official visit to China, the first formal visit by a Japanese leader to China in seven years.
2. The last Japanese prime minister to make an official visit to Beijing was Yoshihiko Noda in 2011.
3. 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the 1978 bilateral Treaty of Peace and Friendship, between China and Japan which followed the normalization of diplomatic ties in 1972.
4 Significance of the visit: The two governments are expected to agree on following areas:
- Economic cooperation such as joint infrastructure development in third countries.
- Confidence-building measures, including exchanges between their defense officials.
- Convergence between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Japan’s concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
5. The Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that Japan and China are expected to promote around 50 private-sector, third-country infrastructure projects this week, setting in motion the first joint deal of building a smart city in Thailand.
6. Why rapprochement between Tokyo and Beijing now?
- The decline in U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific, is a major factor persuading Japan to re-define its role in the region.
- The two countries see third-country infrastructure as a cornerstone of their growing economic cooperation.
- Tagged with politically benefiting from “debt traps” through its loans to developing countries, China is particularly keen to work together with reputed Japanese financial firms in third countries.
- China wants to befriend Japan as it faces an increasingly bitter confrontation with the United States, and Japan, which aims to stabilize its relationship with China by promoting cooperation with the economic powerhouse that possesses growing international clout.
- Concern remains deep in Japan that China, with its rapid military buildup and aggressive maritime postures, is seeking to build hegemony in Asia.
- Beijing is apprehensive that Japan is teaming up with the U.S. to contain China’s rise.