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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

China focuses on exchanges with regional areas to mend ties with Japan

  • October 26, 2019
  • , Yomiuri , p. 10
  • JMH Translation

By Kiyota Higa, General Bureau of China


Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan attended a luncheon hosted by Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki in Sapporo City on Oct. 25. Wang touched on the fact that Japan’s northernmost prefecture has become a popular tourist destination among Chinese after a Chinese blockbuster movie was filmed there and said: “This is a region with potential. We want to strengthen exchanges [with Hokkaido].” According to a source, Wang sampled sea urchin at a seafood processing and distribution company near Lake Toya, a sightseeing spot, on Oct. 24 and joked, “It would have been nice if I had Japanese sake as well.”


In May 2018, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also visited Hokkaido, which, according to a Chinese government source, is described as a model of regional exchanges between Japan and China. A source on Japan-China relations says China has sounded out Japan on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Chinese regional areas to coincide with a trilateral summit between Japan, China, and South Korea, which is slated for December.


China wants key government officials of both Japan and China to visit each country’s regional areas because it wants to improve Japanese public opinion of China through exchanges and the promotion of tourism ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan. The 15th Japan-China Joint Opinion Survey released on Oct. 24 (conducted by the Genron NPO and China International Publishing Group) found that Japanese respondents who have an “unfavorable” impression of China accounted for more than 80%. China believes that expanding people-to-people exchanges is effective to deal with the public sentiment and has asked Japan to encourage school trips to China.


China is poised to win Japan over to its side with an eye on its conflict with the U.S. over trade friction. It is safe to say that Beijing sent Wang, a high-ranking official in the Xi administration, to attend the Ceremony of the Enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor at the Seiden (State Hall) as a measure for improving Japanese public opinion based on China’s full awareness that the imperial family is beloved by the Japanese public. China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Oct. 25 that Wang conveyed Xi’s and his wife’s congratulations to the Emperor and Empress. (Abridged)

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