BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Japan to “make practical efforts to overcome existing political obstacles between the two sides” during an informal meeting with his Japanese counterpart during an ASEAN summit in Myanmar.
According to a statement posted on the website of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.fmprc.gov.cn) on Sunday, Wang met Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Naypyidaw on Saturday. It gave no further details.
Tensions between the two countries have risen in recent months, with each side accusing the other of flying military aircraft too close to its own jets in a long-running territorial dispute over a cluster of Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea.
China defied protests by Japan and the United States to establish an air defense zone in the region last November.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has not held talks with Chinese leaders since he returned to power in December 2012. Relations have also been hurt by Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine, regarded by China as a symbol of Japan’s wartime militarism.
In an interview with the Sankei Shimbun newspaper on Saturday, Abe played down the “historical problems” between the two countries and called for “frank and open discussions”.
“Leaders need to talk because there are issues. So I have said, Japan’s door for discussions is always open, and I would like China to have the same attitude,” he said.
Japanese media reported last week that the region’s two biggest economies are planning to hold bilateral talks at the APEC summit in Beijing in November in a bid to ease some of their differences, but Tokyo has denied the claims.
Reporting by David Stanway, Additional reporting by Sophie Knight in TOKYO; Editing by Jeremy Laurence