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China Business Leaders Meet Japan’s Top Government Spokesman

Japan’s top government spokesman met with a visiting group of Chinese business leaders today and signaled his country wants to improve the frosty relations between Asia’s two largest economies.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reiterated the message that ties between the two countries have global significance and that Japan’s door is always open to dialogue, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The visit came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a short conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg earlier this month.

Ties between the two countries soured a year ago when the Japanese government bought three uninhabited islands also claimed by China. Ships and planes from the two countries have since tailed one another through the disputed area and the dispute has hurt trade and brought high-level diplomatic contacts to a standstill.

“I think there will be more and more exchanges from now on,” Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s coalition partner, New Komeito, told reporters in Tokyo. “There is a trend toward dialogue. We must take advantage of that to try to bring about a summit.”

The Chinese business leaders, who included Wang Dongming, the chairman of Citic Securities Co. and Ren Zhiqiang, former chairman of Huayuan Property Co., told Suga they hoped their visit would deepen ties between corporations in the two nations and improve the bilateral relationship, the Foreign Ministry said in its statement.

While no full bilateral summit has been held for about a year and half, Abe shook hands with Xi on Sept. 5 for the first time since taking office in December and told him that the relationship between their countries should be repaired.

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