Japan and China are making arrangements for a foreign ministerial meeting in Indonesia next week on the fringes of a series of gatherings involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.
While Japan aims to stabilize bilateral ties through dialogue, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang are likely to discuss such issues as Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water into the sea from the crippled Fukushima nuclear complex, which Beijing strongly opposes.
Hayashi is planning to attend the regional foreign ministerial meetings in Jakarta on July 13 and 14, including the ASEAN-plus-three talks involving Japan, China and South Korea, the sources said.
The talks between Hayashi and Qin are expected as the Japanese government is eager to enhance dialogue at various levels with China at a time of lingering tensions over Beijing’s military and economic assertiveness in the region as well as its pressure on Taiwan.
With this year marking the 45th anniversary of the signing of the 1978 bilateral Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is willing to visit China for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In November last year, Kishida and Xi agreed at a summit in Bangkok that the two nations will seek “constructive and stable” ties. It was the first face-to-face meeting of the leaders of the two nations since December 2019.
Hayashi last met with Qin in early April when he became the first Japanese foreign minister to travel to China since December 2019. At the talks, Qin expressed his willingness to visit Japan.
The two countries have been at odds over the repeated entry of Chinese vessels into waters near the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which Beijing claims, and China’s increasing joint military activities with Russia near the Japanese territory.
While in Indonesia, Hayashi is also considering holding bilateral talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, according to the sources.
The release of water from the Fukushima disaster site into the Pacific Ocean, which the Japanese government aims to start around the summer, is also a likely topic of discussion with Park as concerns linger among the South Korean public over how the move will affect the safety of marine products.
Among the multilateral meetings Hayashi is expected to attend in the Indonesian capital is the 27-member ASEAN Regional Forum on July 14, a key security dialogue platform in the Indo-Pacific comprising members such as the United States, China and Russia.
The ARF gathering is one of the few multilateral forums North Korea engages with, although its foreign minister has been absent since 2019.
Source : The Japan Times