Akihiro Ohta, the head of Komeito, has been visiting Beijing, and is getting the royal treatment, including a 45-minute's face time with Hu Jintao. Moreover, Mr. Hu accepted Prime Minister Abe's invitation to visit Japan that Ohta was carrying (this also happens to be a political convention that comes in handy when heads of state receive non-heads of state political figures), together with some very warm words for the Japan-China bilateral relationship. Also significant is the fact that the Komeito, the all-dove, junior member of the ruling coalition, served as the go-between, and that Mr. Hu did not respond to the suggestion that he visit as early as this June. Wen Jiabao is coming in April (as reconfirmed by State Council member (senior minister rank) Tang Jiaxuan to Mr. Ohta), and we will continue to be on notice after that.
Add to this the sharp Chinese response to news reports about Japan-US collaboration talks on Taiwan, brought to you courtesy of Shisaku and their highly measured response to the inauguration of the Ministry of Defense (did you notice that more than meets the casual eye has been changed in the English Translation?), and you get the picture: don't disturb our constituency with Yasukuni, don't mess with Taiwan; otherwise, we can be on the same page.
(Sidebar: Unfortunately for Mr. Abe (and Mr. Ohta of course), this bit of good news was pushed off the front page of the Yomiuri by this, which, unlike this and this, but somewhat like this, is very likely to linger.)
Anyway, here is my translation of the summary of the talks, as it appeared in the Yomiuri:
Ohta: About 100 days have gone by since the Abe cabinet was inaugurated, and particularly important was the improvement in Japan-China relations. Prime Minister Abe himself is pleased that his visit to China has been highly regarded. The prime minister is determined to improve relations with China, and desires that you, President Hu, visit Japan soon. For example, we would be happy if you would come in June.
Hu: Improving and developing the relationship between China and Japan not only benefits the people of our two countries, but also promotes peace, stability and development in Asia and the world as a whole. I will gladly accept the invitation, and wish to visit Japan at a time when it is convenient for both parties.
(North Korea; is something missing in this picture?)
Ohta: The abductees issue is important to Japan. We would like to have the matter taken up in the six-party talks. We would like to request your support. This will dramatically change the sentiment of the Japanese people to China.
Hu: We would like to communicate closely with Japan and play a constructive role. I understand that the Japanese people are concerned over the abductees issue.