The Latest: Japan welcomes Xi as sign of improving ties


European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, and European Council President Donald Tusk, left, are escorted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prior to their working lunch on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at the International Exhibition Center in Osaka, Japan, Thursday, June 27, 2019. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)

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OSAKA, Japan (AP) — The Latest on the meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 major economies (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

Japan is welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping to the G-20 summit as a sign of improving ties.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Thursday that Japan-China relations are on the recovery track and he hopes to further elevate them.

Relations between the two countries have sunken to their lowest in the past few years over territorial disputes involving islands in the East China Sea as well as Japan’s wartime actions.

Xi arrived in Osaka earlier Thursday to attend the summit that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will chair on Friday and Saturday.

Suga says he expects Abe and Xi will have constructive talks and dinner later Thursday.

Xi will also hold talks with President Donald Trump on Saturday, a meeting that is capturing a major attention amid their trade disputes.


5:55 p.m.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing says China intends to defend itself against further U.S. moves to penalize it due to trade friction.

Geng Shuang says threats by President Donald Trump to impose more tariffs on Chinese exports “won’t work on us because the Chinese people don’t believe in heresy and are not afraid of pressure.”

Geng made the comments ahead of Trump’s arrival in Osaka for a G-20 summit. Trump and Xi are due to meet on the sidelines of the two-day meeting on Saturday.

The meeting, more than a month after trade talks between the U.S. and China foundered, has raised hopes the two sides might manage to bridge some differences and cool tensions that led them to raise tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s products.


4:35 p.m.

Japan’s top government spokesman is responding to President Donald Trump’s criticism that the U.S.-Japan security pact is one-sided.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says their obligations under the treaty are not identical but balanced. He says “It is irrelevant to say the treaty is one-sided.”

Trump told U.S. media that the U.S.-Japan pact unfairly puts burden on Washington.

Suga declined to say if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe planned to correct Trump when they hold talks during the Group of 20 Summit in Osaka.

About 50,000 American troops under the pact are hosted by Japan, whose neighbors include Russia, China and North Korea.


4:15 p.m.

Environmental activists and local residents in Kobe have protested and raised an inflatable depicting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, urging an end to funding for coal-fired power plants.

The protesters Thursday were taking aim at Abe’s efforts to promote such projects. They also want more aggressive efforts by the Japanese government to help curb climate change.

The coalition of more than 50 nongovernment groups, including Kiko Network and Friends of the Earth, said in a statement that Japan is one of the largest funders of coal fired-power stations overseas. It ramped up use of coal-fired generators inside Japan after most nuclear power plants were idled after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

The activists staged their protest outside a coal-fired power plant in the port city.


3:20 p.m.

While prospects for detente in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies are a major preoccupation ahead of the two days of G-20 meetings that begin Friday, many participating are calling for a broader perspective in tackling global crises.

The president of the European Union Council, Donald Tusk, told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday: “This will be a difficult G-20. There are global challenges to be met. We need to step up to avoid the climate threats.”

Tusk said that other pressing issues include reforming the World Trade Organization and dealing with international tensions over Iran.

Japanese media reported that the Tusk and Abe made progress toward an agreement on loosening EU restrictions on exports of farm products imposed after a 2011 nuclear accident in northeastern Fukushima prefecture.


1:33 p.m.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders are gathering in Osaka for a summit of the Group of 20 major economies that is likely to be overshadowed by both trade and geopolitical tensions.

President Donald Trump was due to arrive later Thursday, and to meet with Xi on Saturday as the G-20 meetings conclude.

Xi was also expected to hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seeking a breakthrough after years of strain over territorial disputes. It is his first visit to Japan since he became communist China’s top leader in 2013.

Xi’s visit to North Korea last week raised hopes for some movement in the impasse with the U.S. over Pyongyang’s nuclear program. Trump is due to visit South Korea after leaving Japan.

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