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PacNet #11 – China-Japan Maritime Relations: The Case for Cautious Optimism

There has recently been a flurry of diplomatic activity between China and Japan that reflects the first positive turn in the maritime relationship since Japan nationalized the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in September 2012. In late January, New Komeito leader Yamaguchi Natsuo was dispatched to Beijing carrying a letter to Chinese leaders from Abe Shinzo, Japan’s recently elected prime minister. Former Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, current head of the China-Japan Friendship Association, used that opportunity to invite a Japanese delegation to Beijing, led by former Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi, which included current LDP Deputy Secretary General Gen Nakatani. These visits have led to speculation that both Abe Shinzo and Xi Jinping have expressed interest in a leadership summit.