To achieve stability in Asia, it is indispensable for Japan and China to overcome their confrontation and cooperate with each other. The two nations must make efforts to realize long-awaited mutual visits by their leaders and advance a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Vietnam and proposed top-level reciprocal visits. Xi also expressed a positive view of the proposal. It is hoped that a top-level meeting between Japan, China and South Korea will be held in Japan at an early date, in which Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will visit there, thereby paving the way for Abe’s visit to China and Xi’s visit to Japan next year.
“With a view to observing the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty next year, I would like to strongly push forward with improving the two nations’ relationship,” the prime minister said. Xi praised the latest meeting, saying, “Today’s talks mark a new start for Japan and China.”
The prime minister also held talks with Li in the Philippines. It was unusual for a Japanese prime minister to successively meet with both Chinese leaders. It is important for the two countries to make further concessions to each other and grapple with various problems through mutual cooperation.
The prime minister urged Xi to play an even more active role in addressing the North Korean issue. To press North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile development, it is important to urge China to join the net encircling North Korea and increase the effectiveness of it.
With respect to China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative for establishing a huge economic bloc, the prime minister told Xi that he wants to see “Japan and China develop their business in third countries.”
Accelerate talks between govts
It is a fact that developing nations in Asia and Africa, all targeted under the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, need a massive amount of infrastructure investment and assistance. However, if China implements its hegemonic desires through port-harbor development projects and other means and expands its military influence, it could destabilize the region.
It is essential for Japan to become properly involved in the initiative so the openness, transparency and economic efficiency of Chinese investment and assistance will increase, thereby contributing to the sound growth of the nations involved.
The prime minister emphasized to Xi the importance of maintaining maritime order. This came only within a week after the Japanese and U.S. leaders confirmed a policy to promote a “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy” during their talks on Nov. 6. Japan and the United States must cooperate in continuing to urge China to accept such demands as securing freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
The prime minister had good reason to emphasize to Xi, “There will be no genuine improvement in the Japan-China relationship without stability in the East China Sea.”
It cannot be overlooked that government ships from China have continuously intruded into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. The situation should be rectified as soon as possible.
Despite an earlier agreement reached between Japanese and Chinese top leaders to establish a maritime and air liaison mechanism for preventing accidental clashes between the Self-Defense Forces and the Chinese military, the scheme has not yet been put into effect. Negotiations over the joint development of gas fields in the East China Sea remain suspended, too.
It is necessary for the two nations to quicken specific discussions and coordination on a government-to-government basis and make progress in easing tensions, using relations between their leaders as a basis, at a time when they are finally beginning to act in concert.