Japan Data

Postwar Japan-China Relations: A Timeline


With Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled to make a state visit to Japan in spring 2020, here is a look at the major events in the postwar relations between Japan and China.

Japan has deep historical and cultural ties with China, and its neighbor’s economic development brought stronger connections, as it became Japan’s largest trading partner. While there has been a cooling down between them due to disagreement over historical issues, momentum is building to improve political relations.

Date Events
1949 People’s Republic of China established.
1952 Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty signed in Taipei, the Republic of China (Taiwan).
September 1972 Normalization of relations between Japan and the People’s Republic of China.
October 1972 First pandas (Lan Lan and Kang Kang) come from China to Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.
August 1978 Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed between Japan and the People's Republic of China.
October 1978 Vice President Deng Xiaoping makes the first official Chinese state visit to Japan since the end of World War II. He meets with Emperor Shōwa.
1982 Controversy arises over content related to World War II in Japanese history textbooks.
June 1989 Chinese government declares martial law and suppresses student protests in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.
October 1992 Emperor Akihito visits China.
November 1998 Chinese President Jiang Zemin visits Japan as a state guest to commemorate 20 years of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship.
August 2001 Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichirō visits Yasukuni Shrine. The last serving prime minister to attend was Hashimoto Ryūtarō in July 1996. Koizumi’s visits continue until 2006.
2005 A number of large anti-Japan demonstrations occur in China protesting issues such as perceptions of war history and the visits to Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese war criminals are among those enshrined.
October 2006 Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō visits China, the first such trip in five years. An agreement is reached to establish a relationship between the two countries based on strategic reciprocity.
May 2008 Chinese President Hu Jintao makes a state visit to Japan. 
December 2009 Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits Japan and meets with Emperor Akihito.
September 2010 Chinese fishing vessel collides with Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands.
October 2010 The Chinese side cancels the planned summit meeting in Hanoi between Japanese Prime Minister Kan Naoto and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
December 2011 Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko officially visits China.
September 2012 Japan nationalizes the Senkaku Islands. Anti-Japan demos are held across China and there is an increase in Chinese government vessels intruding into Japanese waters.
December 2013  Prime Minister Abe visits Yasukuni Shrine.
November 2014 Prime Minister Abe and President Xi Jinping hold a summit at APEC.
May 2018 Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Japan.
October 2018 On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China, Prime Minister Abe visits China, the first visit by a Japanese leader in 7 years. It is announced that aid to China in the form of official development assistance will come to an end since it has fulfilled its historical role.
June 2019 President Xi visits Japan for the first time as Chinese leader to attend the G20 Summit.
Spring 2020 President Xi scheduled to make a state visit to Japan.
2022  Fiftieth anniversary of the normalization of relations between Japan and China.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Japanese Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai during a summit meeting to discuss normalization of relations between their two countries in Beijing, China, in September 1972. © Jiji.)

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