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When US president Richard Nixon and his secretary of state Henry Kissinger first sought an opening with China in 1971, Eisaku Sato, Japan's prime minister at that time and a stalwart supporter of Washington, was entirely unaware until the last minute. The "Nixon shock" was devastating, but also inspiring as Kakuei Tanaka, Sato's successor, normalized relations with China in September, 1972, more than six years ahead of the United States.
Less than two weeks after the "informal" summit between President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama in California on June 8 and 9, Shotaro Yachi, former vice-foreign minister and a long-time ally of Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, made an "unofficial" visit to Beijing. Yachi might have been on a mission to break the logjam in Japan's relations with China, as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga admitted that Yachi's Beijing trip was under Abe's consent.
Yachi was said to have talked with Chinese officials on how to repair the bilateral ties between Japan and China - the thorn in their relations being, of course, the Diaoyu Islands.