PM Narendra Modi's Japan visit aimed at boosting strategic global partnership (Curtainraiser)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers his policy speech in the Diet on Wednesday

He hopes that the Japan-China relationship could be brought into a new era through frequent mutual visits by leaders of the two countries, Abe added. It follows Japan's previously foreshadowed decision to stop providing China with official development assistance, which Abe argued had "completed its historical mission" over the past 40 years.

In a statement before he leaves for Japan on Saturday to attend the annual summit on October 28 and 29, Modi said India's partnership with Japan is of great substance and objective.

But his meeting with Xi on Friday will be the first full-scale Sino-Japanese summit since 2011.

Mr Abe said their two countries were playing "an indispensable role in the economic development of not just Asia but the world".

Abe returned to power in 2012 when Sino-Japanese ties were in tatters due to a feud over East China Sea islands, and the territorial dispute remains a key source of friction between the two countries. At the forum, Abe took the opportunity to once again emphasize the need to follow worldwide standards for infrastructure projects and to take into account the financial position of recipient countries.

Which is why news of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's upcoming visit to China is remarkable.

Trade tensions with Washington have driven Japan and China into an unlikely friendship.

Faced with the threat of a trade war with the United States, China and Japan have made a decision to work together to develop new overseas markets, by focusing on collaboration instead of competing with each other.

Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, aiming at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes of Silk Road.

"Both countries would like to move their relationship back to focusing on economics and trade and to push aside some of the hard political issues that [represent] a division between the states", Stephen Nagy, from the Tokyo Christian University, said.

In his policy speech, Abe also said he wants to close unfinished World War II diplomatic legacies by also aiming to normalize ties with North Korea and resolving territorial disputes and sign peace treaty with Russian Federation. Abe's official visit is described as the first of its kind since late 2011, although he has made several trips to China to attend global gatherings in the meantime. Even as Trump's trade conflict with China rages, the Japanese auto giant Toyota plans to increase production in China by 20 percent, expanding plants in two major Chinese cities, according to news reports in Japan.

Abe will meet Premier Li in Beijing later on Thursday. It is also expected to promote trust, which has been fragile at times since they restored diplomatic relations in 1972.

Relations between China and Japan have overcome "obstacles" and are moving "from competition to cooperation", the nations' leaders said on Friday as they signed new deals to prevent military clashes at sea and boost financial and economic collaboration.

In the past year, China has stepped up its outreach to Japan and others as it locked horns over trade with the United States.

"The timing is very important", said Yasuhiro Matsuda, a professor at the University of Tokyo's Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia.

Japan has been targeted by U.S. tariffs too, though much less so than China.

The visit, which featured Japanese flags hung in the heart of Beijing, marks a dramatic outward improvement in ties from six years ago.

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