Foreign Minister Taro Kono will make his first visit to China on Jan. 27-28 since he came to office. In his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, he will call for China’s cooperation in dealing with disarmament and non-proliferation, signature initiatives in his foreign policy, as well as climate change and other global issues. At the same time, he will express concerns about the Chinese military’s maritime forays in the East China Sea. While he seeks to improve the bilateral ties, he will demonstrate a stern position on security issues.
The tour will become the first visit to China by a Japanese foreign minister in one year and nine months. Kono is scheduled to meet with Wang on Jan. 28. He also plans to meet with Yang Jiechi, who oversees China’s foreign policy as a state councilor. A courtesy call on Premier Li Keqiang is also being arranged.
In a foreign policy address he delivered in the Diet on Jan. 22, Kono emphasized that China “shares the responsibility for acting in concert [with Japan] to deal with various challenges.” According to people inside the Japanese government, he is expected to confirm with Wang that Japan and China will work together in addressing issues such as disarmament and non-proliferation, climate change and the spread of infectious diseases.
China and Japan have an intergovernmental consultative body to discuss disarmament and non-proliferation, but it has not met since 2011. Kono will make a fresh proposal that Japan and China cooperate in addressing concerns the international community has about disarmament and non-proliferation.
Kono also plans to call on China to join in holding a trilateral talk with Japan and South Korea this spring and ask Li to visit Japan on this occasion. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of a peace and friendship treaty between Japan and China. He will have discussions to realize reciprocal visits by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Meanwhile, security will also become a key topic on the agenda. A Chinese military submarine traveled underwater in Japan’s contiguous zone off the Senkakus in Okinawa Prefecture. Concerning this fact, Kono will place a strong demand on China to prevent a similar incident from happening again. With regards to North Korea’s nuclear missile development, he will discuss measures to thoroughly implement the sanction resolutions by the UN Security Council to prevent the smuggling of cargoes through at-sea transshipments. (Abridged)