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Japan, China eye 'innovation dialogue' to discuss driverless cars, AI

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept. 12, 2018. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and China will pursue cooperation in developing advanced technologies in areas such as self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, sources close to the matter said Sunday, in another sign of improving bilateral relations.

    The two countries are planning to launch an "innovation dialogue" involving officials and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to reach an agreement when he visits China next month, the sources said. The dialogue would help to enhance Asia's largest economies, both facing the threat of higher U.S. trade tariffs.

    Tokyo is now arranging for Abe to arrive in Beijing on Oct. 23, when the countries will mark the 40th anniversary of the signing of a bilateral peace and friendship treaty, according to the sources. During a three-day visit, Abe would meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

    The envisaged dialogue could be launched within the year if the leaders agree, the sources said.

    Abe and Li agreed in May to promote bilateral cooperation on technological innovation when the Chinese premier visited Japan, and Beijing have since been calling for the early launch of the dialogue, the sources said. The dialogue would involve researchers from the private sector as well as government officials.

    Through the dialogue, Japan hopes to more systematically prevent intellectual property infringements by Chinese entities, the sources said.

    China, which is involved in an escalating trade conflict with the United States, appears to be seeking to sustain its competitiveness through cooperation with Japan, which is also facing the threat of higher tariffs being imposed by the administration of President Donald Trump, the sources said.

    During the visit, Abe and Chinese leaders are also expected to discuss cooperation in other areas including joint infrastructure development in third countries as well as reinstating a bilateral currency swap arrangement to prepare for financial crises.

    The two neighbors have been increasingly reaching out to each other despite a past deterioration in relations over a territorial row and wartime history.

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