TOKYO (YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Japanese and Chinese governments are making final arrangements for talks between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping, to be held on the sidelines of the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing next week, government sources said.
The meeting will be the first meeting between the two leaders since Mr Abe came into power in December 2012, as tensions have run high between the two countries over Japan's war-time aggression and long-time territorial disputes. Previously, the closest they got to a meeting was a brief conversation at the sidelines of an international conference.
Japanese and Chinese officials are discussing necessary arrangements through an unofficial channel, including what format should be adopted for a meeting between the two leaders, according to the sources.
Whether Abe and Xi will hold talks now is the subject of international attention. Given this, China is believed to have concluded that as the host of the Apec meeting, it should consider arranging for a bilateral summit to take place.
Beijing and Tokyo have been at loggerheads over the Senkaku Islands - known as Diaoyu in China - in the East China Sea, and visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan's World War II war criminals, by Mr Abe. The Japanese government will never compromise over China's demands over the two issues, the sources said.
If the summit meeting is realised, Japan plans to propose an early launch of a maritime liaison mechanism between the two countries' defence authorities. The mechanism will include a hotline between the authorities and direct contacts between the two countries' vessels and aircraft, with the aim of preventing accidental clashes.