Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Sept. 3, the day of a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Mainichi newspaper reported.
Abe doesn’t plan to attend the morning parade, which marks what China calls the “War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression,” the Mainichi said. Instead, he’ll probably meet Xi in the afternoon, according to the report, citing diplomatic sources. Japanese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Takako Ito said by phone that nothing has been decided yet.
Seven decades after the conflict, lingering acrimony over Japan’s war legacy continues to strain relations with China, its biggest trading partner. While in recent months there have been signs of easing tensions, China continues to call on Japan to do more to atone for its wartime past for ties to improve.
The report comes after Abe made a new statement on the war last week, in which he said he stood by past apologies for Japan’s aggression but didn’t make a new personal apology. China sees the statement as to some extent reflecting its own wishes, the Mainichi said.
Abe also chose to stay away from Yasukuni Shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender. The shrine is seen by many in China and South Korea as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism, because it honors wartime leaders later convicted as Class A war criminals among millions of war dead.
China has invited about 50 leaders to the commemorative events, offering Abe a potential opportunity to hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has said he will attend. If Abe meets Xi, it will be the third bilateral meeting between the two leaders, showing how ties have gradually recovered from their worst crisis in decades.