Saturday’s Asahi wrote that it has now become almost impossible for the Abe administration to invite Chinese leader Xi to visit Japan as a state guest this year because of strong opposition within the ruling LDP over the situation in Hong Kong and China’s continued maritime push around the Senkaku Islands. According to the daily, the Chinese have also been losing interest in the trip since they are unhappy with Tokyo’s diplomatic moves, such as closing the border to all Chinese travelers beginning on April 1 and calling for Taiwan’s participation as an observer in the World Health Assembly in May.
According to a Chinese diplomatic source, Vice Foreign Minister Akiba’s summoning of the Chinese ambassador on May 28 to convey Tokyo’s “deep apprehension” about China’s enactment of national security legislation for Hong Kong prompted the Xi administration to decide against a state visit to Japan this year. “The fact that the ambassador was summoned over a matter that is not bilateral was significant,” the source said. “It was an intervention into China’s domestic affairs.” The daily added that Beijing is not eager to have Xi visit Japan at a time when public support for Prime Minister Abe has been dropping ahead of the end of his term in September of next year. “We see no value in conducting diplomacy with a departing foreign leader who is not supported by the public,” said another diplomatic source.
In a related story, Saturday’s Mainichi took up remarks made at the Diet on Friday by Foreign Minister Motegi, who expressed concern about China’s relentless maritime operations in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands. He was quoted as saying: “China has been taking one step after another to alter the status quo and create a new reality…. Japan needs to respond resolutely to China’s approach of expanding its sphere of interest by changing the existing conditions little by little.”