Japanese PM Abe to visit China in sign of improved relations

BEIJING (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to travel to China later this month for his first formal visit in seven years, in a further sign of improving relations between the regional rivals.

Bilateral ties nosedived in 2012 after Japan nationalized a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea claimed by Beijing, setting off violent protests in China.

Despite close economic ties, many Chinese also resent Japan over its invasion of their country last century. Beijing routinely warms of resurgent Japanese militarism, despite little evidence that is happening.

Abe's Oct. 25-27 visit announced Friday follows a trip to Japan in May by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, the ruling Communist Party's second-ranking official. President Xi Jinping is also expected to visit Japan at a future date.