TOKYO — Representatives of Japanese and Chinese lawmakers agreed Tuesday to improve bilateral ties as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of a peace and friendship treaty between the two countries, but remained apart over a territorial issues.
The meeting under the framework of the Japan-China Parliamentary Exchange Commission took place in Tokyo a day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed Japan’s willingness to promote the relationship with Beijing in his policy speech at the opening of this year’s ordinary Diet session.
Keiji Furuya, chairman of the Committee on Rules and Administration of Japan’s House of Representatives, and Chen Zhu, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, confirmed the two Asian economies will make efforts towards the move, and agreed to advance exchanges at various levels.
Touching on the urgent regional issue of North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, Furuya expressed hope for China’s wider role in strengthening and implementing U.N. Security Council sanction resolutions on Pyongyang.
Earlier this month, Tokyo lodged a protest with Beijing after a Chinese naval submarine and frigate were spotted just outside Japanese territorial waters near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are claimed by China and Taiwan.
Furuya, who is a lawmaker of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, said such behavior “unilaterally raises tensions,” and expressed “grave concern.” A cross-party group of Japanese lower house members joined the meeting.
The commission was supposed to convene every year, alternately in Tokyo and Beijing, since its start in 2005, but has occasionally been cancelled due partly to a territorial dispute over the uninhabited islands, which are called Diayou in China.
Chen maintained Beijing’s stance over the issue, saying the islets are “China’s inherent territory.”
Chen, meanwhile, called for Japan to get actively involved in President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” cross-border infrastructure initiative, aimed at expanding land and maritime trade links in Asia, Europe and Africa.
In his Diet address on Monday, Abe said Japan will work together with China to meet growing demand for building infrastructure in Asia, bearing in mind Xi’s flagship policy.