Bangkok Post

Suga and Xi af­firm co­op­er­a­tion in first talk

- KY­ODO Politics · Asian Politics · BTS · Tokyo · Yoshihide Suga · Xi Jinping · Japan · China · United States of America · Beijing · East China · Hong Kong · the Japanese government · Katsunobu Kato · North Korea · South Korea · Pyongyang · Senkaku Islands

>>TOKYO: In their first talks, Prime Min­is­ter Yoshi­hide Suga on Fri­day agreed with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping to closely co­op­er­ate for the fur­ther de­vel­op­ment of bi­lat­eral ties, de­spite dif­fer­ences over thorny is­sues.

Mr Suga, who took of­fice last week, said to re­porters he told Mr Xi over the phone, “Sta­ble re­la­tions be­tween Ja­pan and China are ex­tremely im­por­tant not only for both coun­tries but for the re­gion and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, and that we both have a re­spon­si­bil­ity in this re­gard.”

He said the two lead­ers agreed to “work closely to­gether at a high level” go­ing for­ward.

The talks came amid height­ened ten­sion be­tween China and the US, Ja­pan’s prin­ci­pal se­cu­rity ally, and a sim­mer­ing ter­ri­to­rial dispute be­tween Tokyo and Bei­jing over a group of un­in­hab­ited islets in the East China Sea.

Dur­ing the roughly 30-minute talks, Mr Suga ex­pressed con­cern over the sit­u­a­tion in the East China Sea and is­sues that are of great in­ter­est to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity in­clud­ing Hong Kong, and told Mr Xi that he wants to dis­cuss them in the fu­ture, a Ja­panese of­fi­cial told a press brief­ing.

Tokyo has re­peat­edly protested Bei­jing’s send­ing of gov­ern­ment ships and fish­ing boats near the Senkaku Is­lands, con­trolled by Ja­pan but claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.

Ear­lier this year, Bei­jing in­tro­duced a sweep­ing na­tional se­cu­rity law in the semi­au­tonomous ter­ri­tory, prompt­ing Ja­pan and other coun­tries to ex­press “grave con­cern” over an ero­sion of free­doms.

Mr Xi ex­pressed his de­sire to ad­vance bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, Mr Suga told re­porters out­side of his of­fi­cial res­i­dence, adding that they did not dis­cuss plans for the Chi­nese pres­i­dent to visit Ja­pan as a state guest.

The trip had been planned for spring this year but was post­poned in­def­i­nitely due to the global coro­n­avirus pan­demic, and some rul­ing party law­mak­ers are now call­ing for it to be can­celed al­to­gether.

The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment’s top spokesman, Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Kat­sunobu Kato, said ear­lier in the day that the coun­tries are cur­rently “not at the stage of set­ting a date” for the visit.

Both af­firmed their co­op­er­a­tion on North Korea, in­clud­ing Ja­pan’s ef­forts to re­trieve na­tion­als who were ab­ducted by Py­ongyang’s agents in the 1970s and 1980s. They also agreed to work to­gether on tack­ling the pan­demic and to seek the re­sump­tion of busi­ness travel be­tween the coun­tries.

 ??  ?? Suga: Will­ing to co­op­er­ate
Suga: Will­ing to co­op­er­ate

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