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Japan wants ‘constructive, stable’ ties with China: PM

#Japan #constructive #stable #ties #China

Japan wants “constructive and stable” ties with China and calls on Beijing to behave “responsibly”, the country’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in an interview Thursday.

Ties between the countries have soured in recent years, with Japan last December calling China the nation’s “greatest strategic challenge ever”, as it announced a major security overhaul including more defence spending.

“We’re facing the most challenging, complex security environment since the war and what must be prioritised, I believe, is proactive diplomacy with China,” Kishida said in an interview with foreign media including AFP.

Japan wants a “constructive and stable relationship” with Beijing, “which requires efforts on both sides”, he added.

“We will continue to call on China to act responsibly.”

Japan is this year’s G7 host, and this week the group’s foreign ministers offered a united front on concerns about China, warning it on everything from maritime claims to Taiwan.

The ministers put Beijing on notice over its “militarisation activities” in the South China Sea and accused it of an “accelerating expansion” of its nuclear arsenal.

The statement prompted furious reaction from Beijing, which accused the group of having “maliciously slandered and smeared” China.

The foreign ministry said it had “lodged solemn representations with Japan” over the statement, which it called “full of arrogance, prejudice and sinister intent”.

Tensions in the region have been stirred by a series of events including Chinese military drills launched after Taiwan’s president met a senior US politician.

China considers Taiwan its territory and has vowed to bring the island under its control one day. It also claims the entire Taiwan Strait as its territorial waters.

– ‘Act responsibly’ –

Kishida said maintaining “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait” was important not only for Japan but for “the stability of the international community”, though he declined to be drawn on how Japan might respond to an invasion.

“We hope that issues about Taiwan will be solved peacefully through dialogue,” he added.

Kishida met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a summit last year, and the country’s foreign minister visited Beijing this month, the first such trip since December 2019.

But he arrived shortly after Tokyo announced it was joining Washington in unveiling export controls on semiconductor equipment — seen as targeting Beijing — and with a Japanese businessman being held by Chinese authorities on allegations of spying.

Kishida called on China to “ensure transparency in the judicial process” and return detained Japanese nationals.

And he said China needed to do more to ensure a “transparent, predictable and fair business environment”.

“In addition to guaranteeing the safety of the Japanese citizens, the legitimate business activities of Japanese companies should also be ensured,” he added.

China and Japan are the world’s second and third largest economies respectively, and Beijing is Tokyo’s largest trading partner.

But the arrest of a man working for a Japanese pharmaceutical company, reportedly with years of experience in China, has chilled the business community.

Kishida also warned that the “stability” of US-China relations is “extremely important for the international community”.

Japan, he added, would call on China “to fulfil its responsibility as a major power in the international community”.

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#Japan #constructive #stable #ties #China

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