Japan FM to Visit China Amid Friction 03/31 06:10

Japan FM to Visit China Amid Friction  03/31 06:10


   TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Friday he 
will visit China this weekend for talks with his counterpart Qin Gang, becoming 
Japan's first top diplomat to do so in more than three years amid growing 
frictions between the two countries, including a recent flap over the detention 
of a Japanese national in Beijing.

   Hayashi hopes to "engage in a candid and in-depth exchange of views toward 
establishing a constructive and stable relationship" at his planned talks with 
Qin and other officials during his April 1-2 visit, he told a news conference.

   He is expected to demand the release of the detained Japanese national, 
discuss security concerns in the region and ask China to act "responsibly" on 
global issues including Russia's war on Ukraine.

   Hayashi noted an agreement between the leaders of the two countries to build 
constructive and stable relations but said "Japan-China relations are facing 
many challenges and concerns, although there are various possibilities (for 

   Despite close economic and business ties between the two Asian powers, Tokyo 
and Beijing have been increasingly at odds in recent years as Japan considers 
China's growing influence in the region as a threat to its national security 
and the economy.

   "I believe it is important to build a constructive and stable relationship 
while we insist on our position on some issues, seek (China's) responsible 
actions and continue our dialogue," Hayashi added. His predecessor Toshimitsu 
Motegi's December 2019 visit to China was the last such trip made by a top 
Japanese diplomat.

   The latest friction between the two sides is over China's detention of an 
employee of the Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma earlier this 
month on suspicion of spying. Japan's government has demanded his release and 
an explanation.

   China's Foreign Ministry said the Japanese citizen was suspected of 
"engaging in espionage activities in violation of the criminal law ... and the 
Anti-Espionage Law of the People's Republic of China." Beijing also noted other 
similar cases by the Japanese, urging Japan's government to better educate its 
people on such laws.

   More than a dozen Japanese citizens with business or other connections to 
China have been arrested in the past over allegations including spying.

   Tokyo considers China a threat to its national and regional security and has 
been expanding its security cooperation with other "like-minded" countries in 
the region and Europe, as well as NATO, while promoting a vision of a "free and 
open Indo-Pacific" as a counter to China.

   Hayashi said Friday he will travel to Brussels after his China visit to 
attend a NATO foreign ministers' meeting to reaffirm Japan's commitment to the 
rules-based international order and reinforce cooperation between Japan and 
NATO in their response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and other key issues.

   Japan is also concerned about growing joint military exercises between China 
and Russia around Japanese coasts.

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