The relationship between Japan and China is steadily moving toward a rapprochement.
On December 28, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with a Japanese delegation led by Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Yoshihisa Inoue, secretary general of Komeito, LDP’s ruling coalition partner, in Beijing. Xi’s appearance at the meeting signaled Beijing’s willingness to strengthen bilateral ties with Japan. During the meeting, Nikai invited Xi to visit Tokyo next year. Earlier this year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself had already offered the same invitation to Xi in a public event.
A Japanese lawmaker in the delegation told The Japan Times, Nikai made the invitation during his meeting with Xi.
As the No. 2 man — who is directly under Abe — of the ruling LDP, Nikai apparently brought the message to Xi on behalf of Abe.
As The Diplomat reported earlier, on September 28, Abe made a surprise appearance at an event marking China’s National Day at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo. It was the first time in 15 years that a Japanese prime minister had attended such an event. During his remarks at the embassy, Abe publicly invited Xi to visit Japan.
“The next thing will be my turn to visit China. After my visit to China, I want President Xi to visit Japan,” Abe said.
Yet according to the Japanese lawmaker, Xi did not give any reply to Nikai’s invitation, but simply smiled.
Xi did express friendliness to the Japanese delegation during the meeting.
According to China’s state news agency, Xinhua, Xi “spoke highly” of the “China-Japan ruling party exchange mechanism in promoting bilateral relations” and called for more party-to-party exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.
After the meeting, Nikai told reporters, “It is true that there were cold days in Japan-China relations but we overcame them. Today, we can feel spring-like warmth,” according to The Japan Times.
“Mr. Xi seemed interested in improving Japan-China relations,” said Inoue, according to Nikkei.
Although Xi didn’t give a direct reply to Japan’s invitation this time, the possibility for Xi to visit Japan can’t be ruled out, as Beijing and Tokyo are seeing increasingly warm relations.
It’s worth noting that even during the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre earlier this month, China still expressed readiness to improve relations with Japan.
While addressing the national memorial ceremony, Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, urged the Chinese and Japanese people to appreciate the hard-won peace.
“China and Japan must act on the basis of both their people’s basic interests, correctly grasp the broad direction of peaceful and friendly cooperation, take history as a mirror, face the future, and pass on friendship down the generations,” Yu said.