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Japan, China hold defense ministerial meeting

  • December 19, 2019
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All national papers reported from Beijing that Defense Minister Kono held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wei on Wednesday. The dailies said they agreed to promote defense exchanges for confidence building and confirmed taking a coordinated approach toward North Korea. However, Kono reportedly voiced concern about China’s aggressive maritime operations in the vicinity of the Senkakus and urged Wei not to proceed with the militarization of the South China Sea. Wei is reportedly likely to visit Japan next year. 


Yomiuri wrote that although the two ministers agreed to deepen high-level military exchanges and discussed issues of mutual concern, such as security in outer space and cyberspace, confidence building between the two nations may still be elusive given Beijing’s continued provocative operations around the Senkakus and rapid military buildup. Claiming that the Trump administration appears to be upping the ante against the Chinese, the daily said some Japanese officials have voiced concern about Tokyo being “overly conciliatory” toward Beijing.


While noting that the defense chief’s visit was intended to lay the groundwork for President Xi’s state visit to Japan next spring, Asahi quoted Kono as telling the press after the session: “It is necessary to create a positive environment for welcoming President Xi. I told my counterpart that considerable efforts need to be made by the Chinese side.”  


Nikkei said Sino-Japanese relations, which reached a low point in 2012 following Japan’s nationalization of the Senkakus, are apparently improving even on the defense front, conjecturing that Beijing is eager to promote reconciliation with Tokyo amid its continued friction with the Trump administration.

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