Sankei noted that the GOJ is watching the escalating friction between the U.S. and China with great interest, focusing on remarks made to the press yesterday by Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga concerning the closure of their respective consulates in Houston and Chengdu. “We are monitoring the situation closely, but I won’t comment on measures taken by a third country,” said the government spokesman. “The importance of international coordination is growing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It is extremely important for the world’s two largest economies to have stable bilateral relations for the prosperity of the international community.” The paper projected that Tokyo may be pressed by Washington to take a tough line toward Beijing during the planned G7 summit next month, adding that the GOJ regards Secretary of State Pompeo’s recent China policy speech at the Nixon Library as reflecting the Trump administration’s “strong frustration” with China’s hegemonic behavior. NHK reported this morning that a DOS spokesperson released a comment to the network on Monday, saying “China’s decision is regrettable.” The spokesperson reportedly said the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu “was at the center of the relationship between the United States and the people in Western China, including Tibet, for 35 years.”
In a related story, Sankei took up a report on Japan’s policy toward China issued recently by CSIS with support from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center. The report, titled “Chinese Influence in Japan,” reportedly mentions that Prime Minister Abe’s executive secretary Takaya Imai has collaborated with LDP Secretary General Nikai, who has maintained close bonds with senior Chinese leaders, to have Tokyo take a conciliatory line toward Beijing. The daily said the U.S. think tank’s report shows that the U.S. government is keenly interested in the decision-making mechanism within the Kantei for policy on China.