Japan, China must continue talks to truly improve bilateral relations

The Yomiuri ShimbunIt is important for Japan and China to utilize momentum for improving their relations and steadily continue practical cooperation, thereby promoting mutual confidence building. Both nations must make sincere efforts in this respect.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with visiting Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“[Japan] will seek to expand [bilateral] relations in various areas,” the prime minister said. Wang responded by saying, “The process of improving relations must be promoted.”

Summit diplomacy is expected to become active from now on. To attend top-level talks among Japan, China and South Korea in May, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will visit Japan for the first time. These meetings will likely be followed by a visit to China by Abe and a visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

To properly handle various problems such as the one involving the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, it is indispensable to build confidence between the top leaders. It is hoped that an exchange of visits between them will occur more regularly.

Wang’s visit to Japan comes after Foreign Minister Taro Kono visited China in January. It is the first time in about nine years for reciprocal visits by the two nations’ foreign ministers to occur. China faces friction with the United States over a bilateral trade problem. Wang’s visit seems to show that China has judged that it is necessary to improve its relationship with Japan, a move that is also necessary for focusing its efforts on relations with the United States.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty. It is important to return to the real beginning of their mutually beneficial strategic relationship and achieve specific results accrued from their cooperation.

Start liaison mechanism soon

In their talks, the Japanese and Chinese foreign ministers agreed to accelerate working-level talks over such issues as climate change and antiterrorism measures.

It is greatly significant for the world’s second- and third-largest economies to join hands in tackling issues of global scale. Cooperation with international organizations, among others, is also needed.

During the talks, Kono conveyed his view about the North Korean problem, saying that sanctions on that country should not be relaxed until complete denuclearization is realized.

Wang explained the content of a summit meeting that took place between China and North Korea in late March. China has taken a stance to go along with North Korea’s assertion that pressure against that nation should be eased step by step in accordance with the degree of progress of its denuclearization. The difference of opinion between Japan and China has not yet been buried.

To maintain the effectiveness of the sanctions, it is vital to secure cooperation from China, North Korea’s main trading partner. The Japanese government should persistently urge China to keep the sanctions in place in cooperation with the United States.

In areas surrounding the Senkaku Islands, it has become a normal occurrence for government ships from China to make incursions into Japanese territorial waters. There is no overlooking China’s provocative conduct that throws cold water on efforts to improve the Japan-China relationship. It is necessary to start operating, at an early date, a sea-air liaison mechanism aimed at averting an accidental clash between the Self-Defense Forces and the Chinese military.

The Japan-China high-level economic dialogue, chaired by Kono and Wang, resumed for the first time in seven years and eight months, and the foreign ministers discussed such matters as the international economic situation and economic cooperation between Japan and China.

They also exchanged opinions about China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which seeks to establish a huge economic zone. Japan is considering providing assistance for private-sector joint projects. It is essential to ensure that the move contributes to the development of other nations and regional stability.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 17, 2018)Speech


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