China has notified Japan that it is positive about holding a summit between Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of an international meeting next month, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.
If the plan goes ahead on the fringes of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Indonesia, it would be the first meeting between the two leaders.
Tokyo has sought to improve bilateral ties with Beijing, as relations between the two Asian countries have recently been hampered by Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant as soon as the end of August.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the conclusion of the 1978 bilateral Peace and Friendship Treaty.
China has conveyed its opposition to Japan’s water discharge project, to which the International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N. watchdog, gave the green light in July, the sources said.
However, Chinese officials told Japan that Beijing remains open to holding high-level talks on the occasion of international meetings and did not rule out the possibility of a meeting between Kishida and Li in Indonesia, the sources added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to participate in a Group of 20 summit in India and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders meeting in the United States. Kishida also aims to hold talks with the Chinese president, the sources said.
During their talks in Jakarta last month, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi had told Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi that the two nations were not in a situation where “high-level exchanges” were possible, the sources added.
Meanwhile, Kishida has asked Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of coalition partner Komeito, to pass a letter to Xi during Yamaguchi’s scheduled visit to China later this month, a government source said.
Komeito, a political party backed by Japan’s largest lay Buddhist group, Soka Gakkai, has urged the Chinese Communist-led government to realize a meeting with Xi during Yamaguchi’s tour, scheduled for three days from Aug. 28.
The party has been seeking to help improve bilateral relations between Tokyo and Beijing that have recently been marred by the water release issue.
Source: The Japan Times