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Mr. Noda said the economic cooperation among Japan, China and South Korea was crucial in ensuring the Asia-Pacific region remain the growth center of the world economy.

Trade among the three countries grew to $690 billion in 2011, and China is the biggest trade partner for both South Korea and Japan, according to a Chinese government report on the three-nation relationship.

The investment agreement — the first such document among the three nations — will stimulate further investment and promote additional trade, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

Associated Press researcher Henry Hou contributed to this report.