Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa met her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Saturday, with the top Japanese diplomat “strongly urging” Beijing to immediately remove its complete ban on seafood imports from Japan over Tokyo’s release of treated wastewater from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The Fukushima issue has bedeviled Sino-Japanese relations already facing tensions over issues such as China’s growing military assertiveness in the region. Despite this, both sides agreed to find a way to resolve the wastewater matter “through discussion and dialogue in a constructive manner,” Japan’s Foreign Ministry said.
Wang repeated China’s opposition to the discharge of “nuclear-contaminated water,” a move that he labeled as “irresponsible,” according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The two top diplomats also agreed to hold bilateral security talks “at an early date,” after Kamikawa expressed “serious concerns” about China’s moves near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. These concerns included Beijing’s placement of a buoy inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone near the uninhabited islets, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyu.
Kamikawa also used the 100-minute meeting to broach the issue of China’s increased military activities around Japan, including its cooperation with Russia, as well as the situation in the South China Sea, Hong Kong and its far-west Xinjiang region, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said.
On the issue of democratic Taiwan, Kamikawa also reiterated the importance of “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” China claims the self-ruled island is a renegade province that must be unified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Wang said the two sides “must respect each other’s legitimate concerns,” with Japan earnestly abiding by the “One China” principle and refraining from interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
The talks in the South Korean city of Busan came a day ahead of a scheduled trilateral meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin — the first in-person talks between the three Asian powers’ foreign ministers in more than four years.
Kamikawa, who became foreign minister in September, is visiting South Korea for the first time as Japan’s top diplomat. Her trip comes on the heels of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s meeting earlier this month with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.
During those talks, Kishda and Xi agreed to “comprehensively promote a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests” amid soured ties over a variety of issues, including the wastewater row.
The prime minister later said that he had discussed the Fukushima issue with Xi, and the two had agreed to arrange expert-level consultations on the matter.
In opening remarks ahead of Kamikawa’s meeting with Wang, Japan’s top diplomat said she “looked forward to working closely together to develop Sino-Japanese relations in line with the direction indicated by the two leaders.”
Wang, meanwhile, called the leaders’ agreement “an important political guideline” and said the two foreign ministers would aim to improve relations “along a healthy and correct trajectory.”
On Thursday, Wang met with Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of Komeito, the Liberal Democratic Party’s coalition partner in the ruling bloc, for talks in Beijing. China called for independent monitoring of the ongoing Fukushima discharge, according to Yamaguchi.
China’s seafood ban has hit Japanese exporters hard, with Chinese customs authorities reporting last week that imports of fish and shellfish from Japan in October dropped 99% from a year earlier to $332,000.
Source: The Japan Times