China's Xi Jinping and Japan's Shinzo Abe to meet at G-20: Tokyo

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China on Sept 4, 2016.
Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China on Sept 4, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

HANGZHOU, CHINA (AFP) - Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in China on Monday (Sept 5), Tokyo said, their first meeting in more than a year with their nations divided by territorial disputes and recriminations over history.

"There are difficult issues between Japan and China, and because of that, it is important that the leaders exchange honest opinions and make improvements," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

The meeting will follow the end of the Group of 20 summit Mr Xi is hosting in the eastern city of Hangzhou, where leaders from around the world have gathered to discuss how to tackle the slowing global economy.

Beijing and Tokyo have a longstanding dispute over islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan, which knows them as Senkaku, and claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.

The last time the two met on Chinese soil, on the sidelines of an Apec summit in 2014, they could barely conceal their mutual distaste.

Ties later thawed, but tensions have been rising again in recent months as Japan weighs in on another Chinese territorial dispute in the South China Sea, where Beijing has built artificial islands capable of supporting military facilities.

Mr Abe has vocally criticised China for rejecting a July ruling by an international tribunal that said extensive claims to the strategically vital waters had no legal basis.