Japan is responsible for the promotion of international cooperation toward stability and growth in the Asia-Pacific region. It is important to expand the cooperative relationship with China, while working closely with the United States.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka. Xi’s visit to Japan was the first for a Chinese president in about nine years. It can be said that the Japan-China relationship, which had deteriorated after the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture in 2012, is back on a normal track.
The prime minister said in the talks that he wanted to create a new era for Japan-China ties, and Xi replied that he wanted to make efforts to build a bilateral relationship suitable for the new era.
Abe and Xi agreed to realize Xi’s return to Japan as a state guest in spring next year. It is important to deepen trust between the leaders and establish a stable bilateral relationship.
Xi reduced the distance with Japan partly because he aims to keep in check the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has toughened his protectionist stance.
The Japanese and Chinese leaders confirmed that they would promote a free and fair trade system. Xi said that he would promote free trade in a multilateral manner.
However, it is a fact that China forces foreign companies to transfer technology and gives preferential treatment to state enterprises through subsidies, which distorts markets and hampers fair economic activities. It is reasonable that Abe asked Xi to redress these practices in their talks.
Both leaders agreed to make efforts to turn the East China Sea into “a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship.” It has become routine for Chinese government ships to intrude into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkakus. Xi should exercise his leadership to prevent further tension in the area.
Treaty not one-sided
Abe pointed out that it is vital that Hong Kong maintains the free system under the one country, two systems framework, apparently bearing in mind demonstrations in Hong Kong against a bill to revise an ordinance that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China.
Japan should call on China in a direct fashion for improvements in human rights issues, as well.
Abe also had a meeting with Trump in Osaka. It was his third meeting with Trump in three successive months since April. Abe stressed that it was “proof of the solid Japan-U.S. alliance.”
Trump recently complained to a U.S. media organization about the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, saying that the United States one-sidedly shoulders the burden.
The security treaty stipulates not only the U.S. obligation to defend Japan but also Japan’s provision of bases to the United States. Trump’s criticism of the security treaty as being one-sided is not accurate. The bases in Japan become a base for the U.S. military and are helpful in keeping China in check and securing the safety of sea lanes.
Trump should acknowledge that Japan contributes to the economic interests of the United States itself.
In the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, Abe and Trump reconfirmed the significance of implementing sanctions resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council that are aimed at North Korea’s denuclearization. It is vital to firmly maintain this principle and urge Pyongyang to make a compromise.