All national dailies front-paged reports on the separate announcements on Thursday by the Japanese and Chinese governments that Chinese leader Xi Jinping has postponed his planned visit to Japan as a state guest in April. Noting that the preparations for his visit have been stalled due to the coronavirus outbreak, the papers wrote that the two governments are planning to reschedule the visit for the fall or later. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga reportedly told the press on Thursday that it is necessary for the two governments to give priority to their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus as it is the greatest challenge now for both countries. Suga reportedly added that the two governments agreed that they need to make sufficient preparations to ensure that Xi’s visit will be productive. The government spokesman also said that the visit will take place at a time that suits both sides and that the two governments will work closely through diplomatic channels to hammer out the details. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reportedly stated in Beijing that Xi’s visit must take place at the most opportune time, environment, and atmosphere.
Asahi wrote that the postponement of Xi’s visit represents a major setback for Prime Minister Abe, who had hoped to demonstrate the improved bilateral relations between Tokyo and Beijing through a state visit by the Chinese leader. Yomiuri wrote that the Japanese and Chinese governments will seek to realize Xi’s visit to Japan at an early date to prevent the postponement from having a negative impact on the improved bilateral relations between the two nations.