Japan ready to cooperate with China on Silk Road project: Abe

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (pictured) expressed hopes to host a trilateral summit involving Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae In before the end of this year.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (pictured) expressed hopes to host a trilateral summit involving Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae In before the end of this year. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed his intention to cooperate with China on President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road initiative, while stressing the need for open economic activity across Asia, Kyodo News agency reported.

Mr Abe made the remarks on Monday (Dec 4) during a reception at a two-day gathering of Japanese and Chinese business executives in Tokyo.

"I believe Japan will be able to cooperate well with China, which has been putting forward its One Belt One Road initiative" in a free and open Indo-Pacific region, Mr Abe said.

China has been busy promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, first touted by Mr Xi in 2013. It is an extensive infrastructure plan to recreate the ancient Silk Road, linking Asia with the Middle East and Europe, which some critics say is more about spreading Chinese influence.

But China says it is simply a development project for common prosperity and that any country is welcome to join in.

Mr Abe said: "Meeting robust infrastructure demand in Asia through cooperation between Japan and China will contribute greatly to the prosperity of Asian people, in addition to the economic development of the two countries."

He also reiterated the need for wide-ranging transparency measures in China-led infrastructure projects, Kyodo reported.

Tokyo is seeking to improve ties with Beijing as this year marks the 45th anniversary of the normalisation of relations between the two countries. Next year will also mark 40 years since the signing of a bilateral peace and friendship treaty between the two sides.

Mr Abe expressed hopes to host a trilateral summit involving Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae In before the end of this year.

The Japanese leader also said he hopes Mr Xi will visit Japan "as early as possible", while expressing his willingness to travel to China first, Kyodo reported.