In what seems to be a promising development, China and Japan, the two leading Asian economies entangled in a festering territorial dispute, have held their first high level security talks in four years. The meeting in Tokyo signals the possibility of a thaw in strained relations between the two countries estranged by historical issues and perception of rivalry.
The meeting focused on improving the bitter relations and setting up a maritime communication hotline between the two countries.
“It can be said that Japan-China relations appear to be advancing gradually through events such as the summit” between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping last November,” Japan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama said in the meeting.
“We expect that the two countries will significantly promote communications in the security and defence field,” he added.
His counterpart, China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao said, “China hoped that the two countries would develop a mind to face history squarely and look into the future.”
However, both countries have failed to set a timeline for the implementation of strategies designed to ensure real-time communication between their armed forces.
The meeting came ahead of a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Japan, China and South Korea on March 21, in Seoul for the first time in nearly three years.
The last round of talk took place in 2011 before the relations deteriorated over a row of islands in the South China Sea.
Both China and South Korea have historical issues relating to Japan’s militarist past of wartime aggression. The way ahead lies in finding some mode of grand reconciliation and facing up to the past while looking ahead to the future of possibilities. The possible thaw in relations between China and Japan also bodes well for India, which is looking to forge multi-pronged relations with the world’s second and third largest economies on separate tracks.
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