TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and China agreed Wednesday to undertake a joint research project this year in an attempt to improve the trade and investment environment between the two countries.
The Japanese trade ministry said government officials and experts will work together to deepen understanding of the two countries' trade and investment regulations, adding that the findings of the joint study will be used as a reference in formulating new policy.
Three memorandums were signed in Tokyo by Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari and Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, who is in Japan accompanying Chinese President Hu Jintao.
In addition to establishing the joint study, the ministers inked memorandums on improving business conditions for small and medium-sized companies and systems for royalties and intellectual property rights, aimed especially at a time Chinese firms incorporate advanced technologies from Japanese counterparts.
The two countries also agreed on the specifics of an ''action agenda'' to improve the business environment between Japan, China and South Korea, according to the trade ministry.
The trilateral action plan has identified problems that need to be solved to deepen economic ties between the three countries, the ministry said. It will supplement ongoing talks on forming an investment accord between them.
Japanese investment in China has been falling in recent years, due partly to a lack of clarity in Chinese business rules and rising labor costs in the fast-growing country.
Japanese investment, excluding the financial sector, in China declined about 30 percent in 2006 from the previous year to $4.9 billion and 24 percent in 2007, according to the trade ministry.
In addition, Japan and China agreed to cooperate on environment and energy-conservation issues.
Amari and Zhang Ping, who heads the National Development and Reform Commission, held talks at the trade ministry later in the day and signed a memorandum on energy-saving cooperation.
Under the deal, Japan will offer its expertise and technologies to China to help it save energy at coal-fired power plants and other facilities.
One of the bilateral energy projects to be carried out involves injecting carbon dioxide emitted from a Chinese coal-fired power plant into an oil field in Daqing, Japanese industry ministry officials said.
The project, which will likely start next year, not only will help reduce CO2 emissions in China but also extract more crude oil from the field, the officials said.
From Japan, companies including Toyota Motor Corp. and JGC Corp. are expected to participate in the project.