Japan Warms to China

Why Abe and Xi Are Slowly Mending Ties

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, November 2014. Kim Kyung-Hoon / REUTERS

The geopolitical landscape of Northeast Asia is changing. China has been rapidly modernizing its military and assertively pressing its expansive territorial claims in the East China and South China Seas. The United States’ commitment to the region has come into question. And North Korea has been expanding its nuclear and missile programs, despite international pressure.

All of these developments have led China and Japan to cautiously rethink their ties. Although trust between the two states remains elusive, in recent months, their governments have taken some incremental steps to stabilize their troubled relations. It seems that Beijing and Tokyo have calculated that their long-running feud is costing them too much and adding unnecessary uncertainty to their region’s security. 

Perhaps the clearest signs of this change have been Tokyo’s attempts to resume high-level summitry with Beijing. Such meetings between Chinese and Japanese leaders have been scarce in recent years due

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