China and Japan on Monday launched regular exchange mechanism between their top legislative bodies as Japan upper house president Chikage Ogi visits China, a move signaling the two Asian neighbors are stepping up efforts to repair ties.
China's top legislator Wu Bangguo and Japan's House of councilors President Chikage Ogi signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Beijing, hoping the mechanism will provide an opportunity for the two countries to carry out pragmatic cooperation and exchanges to benefit the bilateral relations.
Ogi is the first Japanese upper house chief visiting China in seven years since her predecessor Juro Saito visited China in 1999.
Ogi's visit came a week after Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the first Japanese leader visiting China in five years, held summit talks with the Chinese leaders in Beijing. Chinese President Hu Jintao described his visit a "turning point" in relations.
"Your ongoing visit is serving as a turning point in the China-Japan relations and I hope it would also serve as a new starting point for the improvement and development of the bilateral ties," Hu Jintao told Abe.
"Prime Minister Abe and the Chinese leaders reached a series of consensus on developing China-Japan relations during the visit, breaking the political stalemate between the two countries and bringing the bilateral ties to the normal track of development," said Wu, who is chairman of the Standing Committee of Chinese National People's Congress.
China-Japan relations soured over former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's persistent visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese class-A war criminals of the World War II are honored among the country's war dead.
Describing the past five years as "the most difficult" period in the bilateral relations, Wu said the improvement of China-Japan relations is a hard-won result and need to be cherished.
But Wu said Japan should caution the history and Taiwan issue, the political foundation of the bilateral relations.
"The fact proves that, if we handle such issues in accordance with the three political documents, China-Japan relations will move ahead soundly, otherwise they will stagnate or back up," said Wu.
Ogi's China tour coincides with a meeting between the ruling parties of the two countries to be held in Tokyo.
The delegation, headed by Wang Jiarui, head of the International Department of the Community Party of China, was invited by the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party and Komei Party.
The meeting was part of the China-Japanese ruling parties exchange mechanism, which was established in 2004 and formally launched in February this year.
Besides, the two countries have made frequent contacts at non-governmental level in the past years. The China-Japan strategic dialogue also keeps open to discussion about a range of thorny issues of mutual concern.
The visits by Abe and Ogi can be seen as a sign that China-Japan relations have entered a period of "favorable interaction", said Wang Shan, a Japan expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
China and Japan broke the political stalemate and unveiled multi-level exchanges, which will offer a strategic opportunity for the development of the bilateral relations, said Wang.