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Chinese premier backs regional-level exchanges

Jiji Press

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, front left, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang listen during a tour of a Toyota factory in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, on Friday.

Jiji Press SAPPORO (Jiji Press) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for promoting exchanges at the regional level between his country and Japan during a visit to Hokkaido on Friday, accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In a speech to a meeting of Japanese prefectural governors and Chinese provincial leaders in Sapporo, Li stressed that China and Japan are important countries for each other.

Promoting peace and friendship between the nations in a cooperative way is beneficial to regions in both countries, he said.

Li said his ongoing Japan visit, the first since he took office in March 2013, was aimed at bringing the bilateral relationship back to a normal track for stable development in the long term.

Referring to the reason why his current visit included Hokkaido, the premier noted that it has been a key area for Japan’s modernization and agricultural development.

 China is keen to cooperate with Japan on advanced technologies and agriculture, he said.

During their meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday, Abe and Li agreed that China will expand imports of farm products from Japan. The agreement includes designating two more Japanese mills for polishing rice for shipments to China, including one in Hokkaido.

Li said in Friday’s speech that, while farm products shipped to China must be high in quality and safety, Hokkaido has advantages on these points.

China is still a developing country, Li stated frankly. He said his country has three priority fields for its cooperation with Japan — technological innovation, financial affairs and the development of markets in third-party countries, which is linked to its Belt and Road development initiative for the Silk Road economic zone.

Abe called on meeting participants to hold “active discussions on new forms of regional exchanges and cooperation between Japan and China.”

Later on Friday, Li visited the plant of a Toyota Motor Corp. subsidiary in Tomakomai, Hokkaido. Guided by Toyota President Akio Toyoda, he viewed next-generation vehicles of the company, including self-driving, electric and fuel cell models.

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