Asia Minute: Leaders of China, Japan Meet for First Time in Nearly 18 Months

Sep 6, 2016

Credit Day Donaldson / Flickr

As many Americans were enjoying their Labor Day holiday yesterday, the Group of 20 wrapped up its leaders’ summit in China.  There was general agreement on macroeconomic policies—but no real breakthroughs.  Some of the more interesting parts included side meetings between various leaders—including the President of China and the Prime Minister of Japan.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

It’s been nearly a year and a half since the leaders of China and Japan have met face to face.  At the 2014 APEC summit, the two also met in China.  That session produced little more than a noticeably awkward photo opportunity…and even that tense meeting was the leaders’ first since 2012.

Both leaders have travelled widely in the past couple of years---meeting with other leaders all over the world…. including President Obama.  Both men came to the United States last year for extended state visits.

But tensions have long simmered between China and Japan…the latest potential flash point in the troubled relationship: disputed islands in the East China Sea that China calls the Diayous and Japan calls the Senkakus.  China’s Xinhua news agency reports Xi said the two countries should “put aside disruptions” in a relationship he said that is “still troubled by complications at times.”  In Japan, the Nikkei Asian Review mentioned that Xi opened the meeting by shaking hands with Abe’s aides—something it called “an unexpected show of goodwill on his part”…though the paper said, “both leaders wore a stiff expression throughout the meeting.”  Few specifics came from the meeting---other than an agreement to continue a dialogue—which at this point might be achievement enough.