The question facing Japan and China is how thoroughly the two nations will be able to join hands in trying to secure the peace and prosperity of Asia and achieve specific results in this respect.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Beijing, and they agreed to make steady progress in facilitating reciprocal visits by top-level leaders from both countries this year, which marks the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty. They also confirmed the basic spirit of bilateral ties, which holds that the two nations are cooperative partners and will not become a threat to each other.
Summit talks among Japan, China and South Korea would be held in Japan at an early date, after which Chinese Premier Li Keqiang would visit our country for the first time. Later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would visit China, making sure this would lead to a visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Such a schedule has been assumed.
To promote cooperation between Japan and China in political, economic and other fields, it is indispensable to build a relationship of trust between their top-level leaders.
During his latest visit, Kono also held talks with Li and State Councillor Yang Jiechi, who oversees Chinese diplomacy. The move can be viewed as a sign of China’s wish to improve bilateral relations. This must be made a solid trend in the relationship.
Regarding North Korea’s nuclear problem, the two foreign ministers confirmed a policy of fully implementing resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on that country. Kono emphasized that the international community needs to increase pressure on the North so it will be made to change its policy.
Loophole must be closed
To reinforce the effectiveness of pressure on North Korea, China must not be a loophole in international efforts to contain the North. It has been revealed that Chinese trading and other companies were engaged in at-sea transactions of petroleum products with the North in violation of the resolutions.
As a permanent member of the Security Council, China has a responsibility to fulfill in strictly monitoring and uprooting illegal transactions.
During the talks, Kono raised the issue of a Chinese military submarine’s entry into a contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture in the middle of this month, and he urged China to prevent a repeat of the incident.
Such provocative behavior increases tensions between Japan and China, and it also works against an improvement in their relationship. China should sternly restrict itself in this matter.
In the talks, it was agreed that the two nations will make efforts to start operating a sea-air liaison mechanism between their defense authorities to avert an accidental clash between them. The two governments need to hurriedly promote talks aimed at working out the details of the plan.
The foreign ministers welcomed a substantive social security agreement reached to eliminate duplicate pension premium payments by company employees stationed in each other’s countries. They also agreed to work on a project aimed at inviting as many as 1,000 young Chinese people to visit Japan. It is important to promote such practical cooperation and exchanges.
Regarding its “Belt and Road” initiative aimed at setting up a huge economic zone, China has urged Japan to show specific projects for cooperation.
There are security concerns about the “Belt and Road” scheme, which could transform harbors and other facilities in developing countries into military sites. It is important for Japan to closely examine which projects have a high degree of transparency and will be conducive to the development of third countries and to regional stability.