Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) agreed to seek a resolution through dialogue to a dispute over wastewater from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Kishida said after their first summit in a year.
“I urged that this be dealt with calmly on a scientific basis,” Kishida told reporters in San Francisco.
“We will hold discussions based on science at an expert level,” he added.
Kishida described the summit as “very meaningful.”
Xi told Kishida Japan’s discharge is a matter of international public interest and the country needs to handle the issue in a responsible and constructive manner, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
The meeting on Thursday came a day after US President Joe Biden hailed an improvement in US relations with China following his own talks with Xi. That warmer tone helped open the way for US ally Japan to pursue its efforts to shore up ties with its biggest trade partner.
The two neighbors have been wrangling over everything from semiconductors to nuclear waste and the fate of Japanese citizens detained in China. A territorial dispute over uninhabited islands near Taiwan continues to simmer.
Kishida said he urged Xi to end a ban on imports of Japanese seafood, imposed by China in response to Japan’s ocean discharge of wastewater from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has said the release is safe.
The wastewater issue has hurt sales in China for Japanese companies including cosmetics company Shiseido Co, which slashed its profit forecast last week. The Chinese reaction has been a factor in turning the Japanese public to their most negative on China since 2014, according to a poll that was published last month.
Xi told Kishida at the start of the meeting that the two countries should focus on common interests, properly handle differences and re-confirm their reciprocal strategic relationship, the CCTV reported.
Supply chains between Japan and China are deeply intertwined, he said, adding it was in no one’s interest to decouple and break those chains, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.
“I want to work with you to create a brighter future for Japan-China ties for the sake of the next generation,” Kishida responded.
The leaders also agreed to restart high-level economic talks at an appropriate time, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Tokyo last year dubbed its neighbor an “unprecedented security challenge” and is planning its biggest military buildup since World War II, a stance that has riled Beijing.
During the meeting Kishida also called for the release of Japanese citizens being held in China, calling for the individuals to be returned. The detentions have cast a pall over the business environment in China, although Beijing has defended its moves as part of the protection of its national security.
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