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As China-Japan set to revamp ties, Indo-Pacific quad may soon have a gaping hole

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(G.N.S) Dt. 03
Beijing
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping seen in Beijing in November 2014. The Indo-Pacific quad will soon be without Japan, as Tokyo and Beijing look to shore up bilateral relations. Visits by Xi and Abe to each other’s countries and a Japan-China-South Korea summit lined up early in the New Year.
The much-talked-about quad group of India, Japan, Australia and the United States in the Indo-Pacific may soon have a gaping hole as Tokyo and Beijing appear set to revamp ties in 2018.
A Japan-China-South Korea leaders’ summit is planned in Japan early in the New Year, followed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe making an official visit to China, the Nikkei Asian Review is reporting.
Those two events will open the door for Mr. Xi arrival in Japan on his first official visit. Considerable groundwork has already been done to re-set ties between the two Asian heavyweights.
Toshihiro Nikai, number two in Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), is spearheading a diplomatic push to achieve a breakthrough. Last week, he met Chinese President Xi Jinping and invited him to visit Tokyo, the Kyodo news agency reported.
In a rare address to the elite Communist Party of China (CPC) Party School, Mr. Nikai underscored that that the two countries must forge a future-oriented cooperative relationship.
He said that a bilateral “mutually beneficial relationship,” should transition to shape peace and prosperity in Asia and beyond.
Significantly, the senior Japanese politician, who led a ruling party delegation, backed joint forays by Beijing and Tokyo on Asia infrastructure projects, in tune with Mr. Xi’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Kyodo is also reporting that apart from North Korea, the BRI was a major topic of discussion between Mr. Nikai and China’s state councilor Yang Jiechi, ahead of the call on Mr. Xi.\
“It is true that there were cold days in Japan-China relations but we overcame them,” Mr.Nikai told reporters after the meeting with Mr. Xi. “Today, we can feel spring-like warmth.”
The Chinese side is also demonstrating much enthusiasm for a Beijing-Tokyo reengagement in 2018. People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of China’s Communist Party, front-paged a photograph of Mr. Nikai’s call on Mr. Xi.
The state-run China Daily paraphrased remarks by Song Tao, head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, that Mr. Nikai’s call on the Chinese President shows the great importance that Mr. Xi has attached to China-Japan ties.
Mr. Xi’s decision not to speak at the December 13 ceremony of the Nanjing massacre, is also being read in sections of the Japanese media as a signal of China’s intent to build bridges with Mr. Abe’s government.
The Nikkei article, however, points out that Mr. Xi may have to curb resistance from hardline sections of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to rebuild ties with Japan.
It highlighted that anti-Japanese sentiment had been strong in the former Xuzhou military corps, which was part of the previous Nanjing Military Region. But under Mr. Xi’s military reforms, the Xuzhou military corps has been renamed as 71st Group Army, and has been packed by loyalists.
Just before and after the Nanjing massacre ceremony, Mr. Xi visited the 71st military group. The write-up underscored that “Mr. Xi’s visit to the 71st Group Army was aimed at projecting a new message: That the former Nanjing Military Region is now in Xi’s grip.”

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