Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, who is visiting Beijing, met with Vice President Wang Qishan and State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Aug. 31. China has been giving warm receptions to senior Japanese government and ruling party officials even as it grapples with major diplomatic issues. It appears that active coordination has begun for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit that is expected to take place in October.
Nikai met with Wang Qishan in Zhongnanhai, home to top Communist Party of China (CPC) leaders. Wang pointed out the importance of exchanges between ruling parties, while Nikai responded by saying: “I would like to express my gratitude for your consideration for Japan-China friendship.” Wang is a close confident of President Xi Jinping and he had not held any official meeting with senior Japanese officials since he assumed the post of vice president last March. However, he met with House of Representatives member Takeshi Noda, chairman of the Japan-China Society, on Aug. 24 and with Nikai only a week later.
Chinese cabinet ministers and senior CPC officials were also very attentive to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Yoshimasa Hayashi, who were visiting China at the same time as Nikai. A Chinese diplomatic source intimated that “this is the result of China’s upgrading its response to Japan by one level.” At first, China was planning to actively push its Japan diplomacy after the LDP presidential election in September, but it has now judged that there will be no significant change in Japan’s posture toward China.
Meanwhile, China continues its process of fine-tuning a new Japan-China relationship. When referring to the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship at his meeting with Nikai on Aug. 31, Wang Yi stated: “Both Japan and China must stand by their declaration not to seek hegemony and must oppose other countries’ efforts to pursue hegemony.” The above diplomatic source explained, “This was meant to ask Japan how it would position itself between the United States, which adopts an ‘America First’ posture, and China.”