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Japan, China Agree to Restart Two-way Travel by End November

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 11/24/2020 Isabel Reynolds and Emi Nobuhiro
a room filled with luggage: Passengers rest next to social distancing signs displayed on seating at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. The global airline industry is facing a painfully slow recovery from the ongoing effects of the pandemic as carriers slash jobs and secure funds to ride out the crisis. © Bloomberg Passengers rest next to social distancing signs displayed on seating at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. The global airline industry is facing a painfully slow recovery from the ongoing effects of the pandemic as carriers slash jobs and secure funds to ride out the crisis.

(Bloomberg) -- The foreign ministers of China and Japan agreed at a meeting in Tokyo to lift some virus-related travel restrictions by the end of the month, while also re-stating their differences over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi is the first senior Chinese official to visit Japan since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga took office in September. The two men are set to meet Wednesday, as China seeks to recalibrate its ties with key American allies ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next year. Wang then travels to South Korea for high-level talks in Seoul.

Suga, who has little experience of diplomacy, must strike a delicate balance between the U.S., Japan’s only formal military ally, and China, its biggest trading partner. That task could be made more difficult by the pandemic, which forced the postponement of a state visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier in the year.

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At the meeting Tuesday, Wang and his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, agreed to restart some travel for businesspeople and residents before the end of November. Both ministers agreed that stable Japan-China ties are important for the region and the world, Motegi said.

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Motegi also said he had pressed Wang for forward-looking action on the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Wang responded that China would continue to defend its rights over the isles. Tensions around the islands have worsened in recent months, with ships and planes from both countries frequently chasing one another.

The two ministers said they had also agreed on the following:

Setting up a defense hot line by the end of the yearRestarting a high-level economic dialogue at the appropriate time next yearCooperating on the Tokyo and Beijing OlympicsSharing expertise on the coronavirus, and establishing a framework for talks on climate change and a mechanism for agricultural tradeBringing the RCEP trade agreement into force quickly; moving forward on a trilateral trade deal with South Korea

(Updates with Wang trip to South Korea.)

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