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Japan, China to hold disarmament talks for 1st time in 8 yrs

TOKYO — Japan and China are arranging to hold bilateral talks on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation for the first time in eight years, government sources in Tokyo said Friday, in the latest sign of thawing bilateral ties.


During the talks likely to be held Tuesday in Beijing, Japan is expected to call on China to reduce its nuclear weapons and increase transparency of its holdings, the sources said.


China, whose weaponry includes intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, may take issue with Japan’s disarmament and nonproliferation policy that depends on the U.S. nuclear umbrella, according to the sources.


The two sides are also expected to exchange views on North Korea’s nuclear and missile development as well as Iran’s nuclear ambitions following Tehran’s recent decision to suspend some of its commitments under a 2015 international nuclear deal in response to Washington’s withdrawal from the accord and reintroduction of sanctions. China is part of the accord.


Tomoyuki Yoshida, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s disarmament, nonproliferation and science department, will take part in the meeting also attended by senior Chinese officials.


Sino-Japanese relations were frayed over issues related to wartime history and territory but have been improving in recent months.


Following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to China last October, Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to make his first visit as president to Japan next month.


Since Abe’s trip to China, the two governments have been exploring the resumption of the bilateral framework launched in 1999 to discuss disarmament and nonproliferation, the sources said.


The previous round was held in 2011 before relations took a drastic turn for the worse in 2012 when Japan put the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, claimed by China, in the East China Sea under state control.

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