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China's defense chief visits Kyoto, says visit helped to strengthen bilateral ties

China's defense chief visits Kyoto, says visit helped to strengthen bilateral ties

China's defense chief said his visit this week to Japan had helped strengthen ties and deepen understanding between the old foes, as he paid a visit Saturday to the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto.
Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan arrived in Japan on Wednesday, the first Chinese defense chief to visit Japan in nearly a decade. During his five-day visit, Cao met with Japanese leaders to discuss defense and other regional issues.
"We were able to deepen mutual understanding and strengthen friendship, and we also deepened understanding about defense cooperation," Cao told public broadcaster NHK on Saturday, as he visited Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto. "My visit was of great importance to both China and Japan."
In Kyoto, Cao laid flowers at a stone monument commemorating a visit by former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, who signed the 1972 communique normalizing ties between the two countries.
Tokyo's ties with Beijing have been improving since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a fence-mending trip to China immediately after taking office last September, reversing a steep decline in relations under his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi.
Cao's visit lifted a freeze in defense contacts between the two Asian neighbors amid sign of improvement in overall ties. But Japan's concerns about China's military buildup persisted.
Japanese Defense Minister Masahiko Komura said Friday that Cao failed to address Japan's concerns over surging Chinese military spending during talks this week and that Tokyo will keep pressing Beijing for more transparency.
During Thursday's talks, Komura urged China to disclose more details about its military budget, which jumped 17.8 percent to nearly US$45 billion (