Japan yesterday used a visit by Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) to protest Beijing’s increased activity and what it calls infiltration around disputed islands that Taiwan also claims, while Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that a stable relationship with China was important.
“The situation is extremely serious,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters after meeting with Wang, who arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday for a two-day visit.
Relations between the two countries have been strained over territorial disputes and World War II history, even though ties have improved in the past few years while China’s trade dispute with the US has escalated.
The territorial row is centered on the Japanese-controlled Diaoyutais (釣魚台), which Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu.
Chinese coast guard ships have stepped up activity around the islands, despite protests and warnings by the Japanese authorities.
Kato said that the Japanese government earlier yesterday protested when Chinese ships entered Japan’s contiguous zone, just outside of its territorial waters, for the 306th time this year.
“I conveyed [to Wang] our concerns about the activities of the Chinese government ships around the islands and asked for positive steps by China,” Kato said.
He said Wang hoped that China would form a positive relationship with Japan and that the two sides would play constructive roles in the region.
On Tuesday, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi and Wang agreed to try not to escalate tensions around the islands.
The two foreign ministers also agreed to resume business travel between the world’s second and third-largest economies through a “business track” program that would allow visitors to engage in limited activities during their 14-day quarantine periods.
They also agreed to work together on climate change, energy conservation, healthcare and digital commerce.
Later yesterday, Suga said that the relationship was important.
“A stable relationship between the two countries is important not only for Japan and China, but also for the region and the international community,” Suga said.
Wang told Suga that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) wants to build a good working relationship.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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