The Shanghai and Tokyo film festivals are to step up their co-operation. The two will sign a memorandum next week during the Shanghai International Film Festival which kicks off this Saturday (June 13-21 ).

The agreement is a rare sign of lessening tensions between Japan and China, which have an often fraught political relationship. It is also being read by many executives as an attempt by Shanghai to strengthen itself against growing competition from within China.

The Beijing festival, held in April, is well-financed and held in a city which is the political capital of China and home of the Chinese film industry. Also emerging on the horizon is the Qingdao festival, which launches in 2017 and is backed by the deep-pocketed property to entertainment giant Wanda. Shanghai has reportedly lost several staff to Qingdao.

The Shanghai-Tokyo deal will see the two co-operate on matters including: recommendation of new talent; competition film selection; jury selection; guest invitation and personnel exchange.

“Shanghai and Tokyo are both Asian big cities, we both have the responsibilities to support Asian filmmakers,” SIFF said in a statement. “We all know European film festivals have attracted most of the filmmakers’ attention, but if we give Asian films full recognition and encouragement, at least we can win the trust of Asian filmmakers. Hope the collaboration can work out, and Japanese films select SIFF to do their promotion, attend competition, likewise Chinese films choose TIFF.”

Shanghai will this year screen 27 Japanese films, including Daihachi Yoshida’s “Pale Moon” which won the best actress and audience award in Tokyo’s competition section last year, Kiki Sugino’s “Kyoto Elegy” Masaharu Take’s “100 Yen Love” and Shuichi Okita’s “Ecotherapy Getaway Holiday.”