Interestingly, Japan has acquired a very special relevance in the Asian strategic framework and the Xi-Abe meeting on 26 October, could lead to a significant re-wiring of the East Asian strategic grid with deep implications for the USA, Russia and India.
Saying Japan welcomes and supports China's efforts in furthering opening-up, Abe expressed Japan's willingness to intensify exchanges with China to lay the social foundation to improve bilateral ties.
"We hope both sides would work hard to promote regional peace, safeguard multilateralism and free trade, and become the axis of stability, growth and momentum for not just Asia but the world", Li said in a speech at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.
But his meeting with Xi on Friday will be the first full-scale Sino-Japanese summit since 2011. They have highlighted that Abe and President Xi's dominant positions within their polities places them in a unique position to advance their national interests through economic cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), trade pacts, and developing co-dependence as the Germans and French did to make a future war between them a thing of the past.
Abe was in China for the first formal bilateral summit in seven years.
"China and Japan are neighbours and partners, and we will not be a threat to each other", he said.
Abe's visit comes amid turbulence in the global economy, with the United States and China involved in an increasingly tense trade dispute. For Tokyo, these bilateral talks showcase Japan's commitment to diplomacy, deepen economic engagement with China, and build multilateral trade by accelerating both the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (an alternative to TPP) and trilateral negotiations between for a South Korea, Japan, and China free-trade agreement.
"Both countries would like to move their relationship back to focusing on economics and trade and to push aside some of the hard political issues that [represent] a division between the states", Stephen Nagy, from the Tokyo Christian University, said.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship.
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China now restricts the import of foods produced in 10 Japanese prefectures due to concerns about nuclear radiation after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which was initiated by the devastating tsunami that hit the country in 2011.
"In the past several years, the China-Japan relationship has experienced ups and downs".
"China is willing to work together with Japan to take Sino-Japanese relations back to a normal track, maintaining stable, sustainable and healthy development and making new progress", Li said during an appearance with Abe on Friday.
"There is a possibility they could cooperate against China", Hu Lingyuan, head of the Center for Japanese Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said of the Indo-Pacific group.
Abe will meet Premier Li in Beijing later on Thursday.
While Japan, anxious about China's growing naval power, is keen for closer economic ties with its biggest trading partner, it must manage that rapprochement without upsetting its key security ally, the United States, with which it has trade problems of its own.
Japan has been targeted by United States tariffs too, though much less so than China.
This year, China imported various Japanese films and has been exploring its pool of stories that Beijing could adapt.