High-level visits and exchanges between Japan and China are of great significance, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, expressing the hope that his upcoming trip to China will serve as an opportunity to further consolidate bilateral relations.
In a written interview with Chinese media, the prime minister also said that he looks forward to Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Japan next year.
Abe made the remarks ahead of the eighth annual meeting of leaders of China, Japan and South Korea, which will take him to China's southwestern city of Chengdu on Tuesday.
Japan and China are neighbors, which share a long history of exchanges and both bear major responsibility for regional and international peace and prosperity, Abe said.
He hopes that the upcoming meeting will summarize the trilateral cooperation that has made progress in a wide range of fields so far, and explore how to further deepen trilateral cooperation in areas of common concern, including environmental protection, aging societies and personnel exchanges.
The three countries share various issues that are unique to neighboring countries, which is why the three nations should take advantage of this opportunity to conduct candid discussions on issues of common concern, he said.
Since the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, the two countries have been deepening friendly cooperation at the government level, as well as at the people-to-people, local and corporate levels, he said.
The international community is currently facing great changes and conspicuous unstable factors, Abe said, adding that he believes the cooperation between China and Japan, the world's second and third largest economies respectively, can form a great force.
Japan is ready to work with China to push for the formulation of new rules for the digital economy under the framework of the World Trade Organization, he said.
Abe also listed the recent progress in bilateral cooperation in third-party markets. In 2018, the two sides agreed on jointly setting up "a committee to promote Japan-China non-governmental commercial activities conducted in a third party," which is across-departmental and involves both governments and private sectors, he said.
The two sides also agreed on holding the China-Japan Third-Party Market Cooperation Forum, which is making progress in its implementation with 52 cooperation memorandums already signed between private enterprises of the two countries, Abe said.
As to the increasingly vibrant people-to-people exchanges between China and Japan, Abe said that they are the foundation for bilateral ties.
During his visit to China last year, Abe designated 2019 as the China-Japan Youth Exchange Promotion Year with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and agreed to boost the number of people involved in youth exchanges to 30,000 in the next five years.
So far, more than 230 projects have been included in the China-Japan Youth Exchange Promotion Year and more than 270,000 people from Japan and China have participated, he said.
Tokyo will host the Olympics and Paralympics next summer, while Beijing will host the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 2022. Next year's China-Japan Cultural and Sports Exchange Promotion Year is an opportunity to bolster people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, Abe said.