Japan, China wrap up economic talks

Updated: 2006-12-20 18:49

BEIJING - Japan and China wrapped up talks Wednesday on ways to expand trade and economic ties, Foreign Ministry officials said.

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The two-day talks came amid warming relations between the neighbors under new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

The two sides also announced that negotiations will begin on a pact aimed at expanding investment among Japan, China and South Korea. The talks will be held at the East Asian summit, which was rescheduled for January in the Philippines after a storm led to its postponement earlier this month.

Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka also asked Chinese Deputy Minister for Commerce Chen Jian for an easing of some investment and trade restrictions, including a ban on foreign animation programs on prime-time television.

Ties between Beijing and Tokyo have improved under Abe, who visited Beijing and Seoul weeks after taking office in September.

His predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, repeatedly visited a controversial Japanese shrine which honors the country's war dead, including convicted war criminals. The visits angered China and brought bilateral ties to their lowest point in decades.

The latest economic partnership talks were the fifth between the two countries since 2003.

China was Japan's No. 2 trade partner in 2005 behind the U.S., underscoring the growing importance of smooth relations.

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