Photo/IllutrationChinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe smile for the camera in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Sept. 28. (Tetsuro Takehana)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe started a new diplomatic offensive to China by attending an annual Chinese political event in Tokyo on Sept. 28, the day of the Lower House dissolution, and inviting Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Japan in 2018.

Abe also expressed his desire to visit China next year, and showed his idea of holding a Tokyo-Beijing-Seoul tripartite summit in Japan later this year.

It was the first time in 15 years a Japanese prime minister has attended the ceremony at a Tokyo hotel to celebrate China’s National Day on Oct. 1 and the 45th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations on Sept. 29, 1972. It was also the first time for Abe to attend as prime minister.

Abe will now await the response to his enthusiasm for improving relations between the two Asian powerhouses.

He gave his speech in front of Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua, the host of the ceremony.

The prime minister first said he was looking forward to hosting a summit between Japan, China and South Korea later this year, and he would invite Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to the talks.

“The next thing will be my turn to visit China. After my visit to China, I want President Xi to visit Japan,” he then said.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said in his speech, “I also want to visit China as early as possible and discuss concrete measures for bilateral cooperation.”

Kono is considering visiting China as early as in November, according to sources related to Japan-China relations.

The governments of both Japan and China exchanged official congratulatory telegrams at the ceremony for the first time in 10 years.

Japanese government officials said that Abe’s attendance was decided immediately before the event.

“Abe probably thought that showing a stance of tackling diplomatic challenges positively will be beneficial for the (Oct. 22 Lower House) election. Therefore, he took part in the ceremony despite it being the day of the dissolution (of the chamber),” one of the officials said.