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Japan’s foreign minister should visit China: Taro Kono

  • December 14, 2021
  • , Nikkei Asia , 2:50 a.m.
  • English Press

KAORU OSAWA, Nikkei staff writer


TOKYO — Taro Kono, public relations chief of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, expressed concern regarding the mounting opposition toward Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi’s planned first visit to China.


“Diplomacy is not something you do by lobbing slogans at each other,” the former foreign and defense minister said in a speech Monday in Tokyo. “If the foreign ministers can’t talk, that is definitely not an ideal situation.”


“Some say that all we need to do is to dial up rhetoric toward China. We need to be very much concerned about the rise of such irresponsible voices,” Kono said.


China has invited Hayashi, who became Japan’s top diplomat last month, to visit the country. It would be the first such trip since December 2019. The visit is expected to take place in 2022, which marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China.


The Harvard-educated Hayashi was chairman of the Japan-China Friendship Parliamentarians’ Union, a cross-party group that promotes good relations with Beijing, before assuming his current role. He has since stepped down from the chairman’s post.


Last month, Masahisa Sato, chairman of the LDP’s Foreign Affairs Division, said a foreign minister’s visit to China “would send the wrong message overseas,” as Japan weighs joining a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.


Kono, meanwhile, said the LDP will need to review its public relations strategy leading up to the crucial upper house elections in the summer of 2022, with a focus on strengthening digital messaging.


Reflecting on the October general elections, he said, “I must admit that the LDP’s ability to distribute information paled in comparison to [alliance partner] Komeito and the [opposition] Communist Party.”


Each candidate’s campaign team has a different level of sophistication when it comes to the use of the internet and social media, Kono said. “We need to make sure that we elevate everybody’s game.”

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