Japan, China pledge to pursue improved ties, keep pressure on N Korea

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The agreement came as Chinese Foreign Minster Wang Yi makes a rare visit to Tokyo, in a sign of improving cooperation between Asia's two largest economies as they face policy whiplash from the US over trade and security.

Wang is the first Chinese foreign minister to visit Japan in a bilateral context in eight years and five months. The event will discuss The Future of Banking - Evolution, Revolution Or Big Bang by bringing together regulators, banks and disrupters, as digitalisation and innovative business models are affecting the environment in which financial institutions operate. Successful visits by Wang and Li would provide positive publicity at a crucial time for Abe, whose chances of winning a ruling party leadership election in September have been damaged by a series of allegations of cronyism and government cover-ups.

Wang said China and Japan should maintain momentum in the development of bilateral relations through mutual efforts such as high-level contacts.

Wang's trip to meet his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, became the first of its kind in more than eight years.

Kono said he also asked for China's cooperation in resolving the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

Tokyo hopes such a meeting will lead to a long-awaited exchange of state visits between Abe and Xi.

"I would like us to build peaceful and friendly relations befitting the name of the treaty", Kono said, adding that the two nations are "partners in cooperation" and share an understanding that they should not threaten each other.

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The world's second and third largest economies have a fraught relationship, complicated by longstanding maritime disputes and Japan's wartime legacy.

But Tokyo is eager to get the relationship back on firmer footing, especially as it fears being shut out of negotiations on North Korea's nuclear programme in which Beijing is likely to be a major player.

The talks came ahead of a summit between the two Koreas this month and a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jon Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

"We confirmed that we shall continue our close coordination while also completely implementing related UN Security Council resolutions to realise the irreversible, verifiable and complete denuclearisation of North Korea and its missiles".

Kono told Wang that true improvement in bilateral ties can not be achieved without stability in the East China Sea, where China has challenged Japan's sovereignty over uninhabited islets.

Mr Abe, who is due to meet Mr Trump in Florida on Tuesday to discuss North Korea, will meet Mr Wang on Monday.

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