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China congratulates Japan's new foreign, defense ministers

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying (Kyodo)

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- China's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday congratulated Japan's newly appointed Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Taro Kono on their new positions while commending Kono for his great efforts in improving bilateral relations between the two countries.

"During the past two years as Japan's foreign minister, Mr. Taro Kono has made great efforts to promote the improvement and development of Sino-Japanese relations," spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing. "We hope he will even play a more positive role in improving our bilateral relations."

Earlier on Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe carried out a major Cabinet reshuffle, in which he replaced or moved 17 of his 19 Cabinet ministers in a bid to create a fresh image and accomplish his administration's goals, including a first-ever amendment of the Constitution.

While noting that China cannot comment on Abe's Cabinet reshuffle as it is "Japan's internal affairs," Hua also congratulated Motegi on his appointment as foreign minister.

"We hope that the two foreign ministries will make joint efforts to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of both sides and jointly promote the construction of Sino-Japanese relations that meet the requirements of the new era," she said.

Despite rising tensions in a prolonged trade war between China and Japan's close ally, relations between the two East Asian countries have been improving recently.

Having pledged to make efforts to build a "new era" in Sino-Japanese ties, the two sides are preparing for President Xi Jinping's first state visit to Japan planned for next spring.

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