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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.

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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