Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday voiced his eagerness to prepare for a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, although some conservative lawmakers oppose the plan due largely to the lingering political unrest in Hong Kong.
"Japan and China have responsibility for peace and stability in this region and the world," Abe said at a press conference following his trilateral summit with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts in China.
Xi's envisioned visit to Japan next spring "would become a good chance to show the responsibility of Japan and China," Abe added.
Touching on the human rights situation in Hong Kong and the far-western Xinjiang region, where Beijing has been criticized for allegedly infringing on the human rights of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, Abe called on China to find solutions "through dialogue."
In Hong Kong, large-scale demonstrations calling for democratic reform have continued unabated but Beijing has shown little sign of acceding to demands by pro-democracy protesters.
(Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (far R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (far L) hold talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec. 23, 2019.)
On Monday, Abe and Xi held bilateral talks in Beijing, a day ahead of his three-way summit with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae In in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu.
At the meeting, Abe and Xi agreed to work together to elevate relations between Japan and China to a new level.
China-Japan tension intensified after the government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Abe's predecessor, decided in September 2012 to bring the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea under state control.
The Senkakus, called Diaoyu in China, are controlled by Japan but claimed by Beijing.
Bilateral ties, however, have been improving recently, as China has been trying to bolster economic cooperation with Japan amid a prolonged tit-for-tat tariff trade dispute with the United States.
Tokyo and Beijing have also made an agreement to promote reciprocal visits by leaders of the two countries, but some conservative Japanese lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have urged Abe to rescind the invitation to Xi.
Brushing aside such a demand, Abe on Tuesday said, "We have challenges. That's why we have to continue dialogue."