Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, shake hands at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo Friday, May 17, 2019. (Eugene Hoshiko, Pool/Associated Press)

TOKYO — Japan and China agreed Friday to boost their relations ahead of a planned visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan in June, his first since coming to power in 2013.

China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the timing is appropriate for the two sides to deepen ties.

He said this year marks a fresh start for both countries — the 70th anniversary of Communist rule in China and the beginning of the “Reiwa” era of Emperor Naruhito, who acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1. “A new momentum is emerging in Japan-China relations,” Yang said.

“I’m confident that our ties are not only back on a normal track but will continue to develop in a healthy and stable manner,” he said.

The two Asian powers have disputes over the ownership of tiny islands and undersea deposits in the East China Sea, as well as over wartime history, but their relations have improved recently amid the U.S. trade war with China.

Abe and Yang agreed to continue preparing for Xi’s June 28-29 visit to attend the G-20 summit in Osaka, where the leaders are expected to hold talks.

Yang also met with Abe’s national security adviser, Shotaro Yachi, and Foreign Minister Taro Kono to discuss Xi’s visit.

During the G-20 summit, Abe also is to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump for a third month in a row.

Abe said Xi’s visit would be a catalyst for China-Japan relations.

“Using President Xi’s visit to Japan as a trigger, I hope we can further develop Japan-China relations into a new era as our relations have returned to normalcy,” Abe told Yang.

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