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Chinese defense minister in historic Japanese visit

The defense ministers of China and Japan met Monday for the first time in 35 years in a symbolic encounter that officials said could mark the start of military exchanges between the World War II enemies.

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Defense Minister Zhang Aiping, stopping off in Tokyo on his way home from a visit to the United States and Canada, met for 50 minutes with Yuko Kurihara, director general of Japan's Self-Defense Agency.

The conference lasted half an hour longer than scheduled. A Japanese official emphasized that the meeting, arranged at China's request, was a ''courtesy call'' meant to establish high-level contacts between the two countries. He said it did not deal with ''matters of substance.''

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