1st Japan FM visit in 4 years

By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-29 0:13:01

S.China Sea meddling hampers thaw in relations: expert

A file photo shows Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida attending a press conference in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Xinhua

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will visit China on Friday, the first by a Japanese foreign minister in four and a half years.

Analysts believe it is a sign of warming bilateral relations but said China may want to use the chance to warn Japan not to get involved in South China Sea disputes.

Kishida is set to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other officials for talks on bilateral relations and other issues of common concern, according to Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.

Relations between China and Japan have been strained since 2012, when the two countries engaged in territorial spats over the Diaoyu Islands. No Japanese foreign minister has visited China since November 2011.

 "High-level visits between China and Japan help promote communications especially when China wants to express its concerns on Japan's recent criticism of the South China Sea issue," Liu Jiangyong, vice dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

China and Japan also need to sit down and discuss some regional affairs, said Liu, adding that Sino-Japanese relations have improved but remain fragile.

"Japan should be aware that interfering in disputes in the South China Sea undermines Sino-Japanese relations, which also belies its words on improving ties with China," Lü Yaodong, director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

In his speech in Tokyo, Kishida said that he hopes to tackle "the country's [China's] advancement in the East and South China seas."

After his China trip, Kishida plans to visit Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam in the coming week.

"China has expressed strong opposition to any provocative action of irrelevant parties that could complicate the disputes and increase tensions in the South China Sea. If Japan persists, its rhetoric on mending Sino-Japan relations would be seen as a trick, because it will continue to toe the US line and burnish its image among some countries," Jiang Lifeng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

In February, Japan and the Philippines signed an agreement that allows Tokyo to sell military equipment to Manila, including advanced aircraft used for surveillance missions. The country also dispatched two Japanese destroyers, the Ariake and Setogiri, and the submarine Oyashio, to "observe" joint US-Philippines military exercises.

Abiding by historical agreements

The key to mending relations lies in whether Japan abides by historical diplomatic principles it has reached with China, said Jiang.

Hua said Wednesday that China hopes Japan "would abide by the four political documents reached between the two countries in 1972, 1978, 1998 and 2008 as well as the four-point principled agreement reached in November 2014, and handle relevant issues in an appropriate manner."

Analysts also said that frequent trade and personnel exchanges between the two countries are signs of improving relations, and the huge influx of Chinese tourists to Japan helps deepen mutual understanding.

 "Aside from economic ties, China and Japan could also cooperate in many other fields for they share many interests. Improved Sino-Japanese relations would also benefit the Northeast Asian region," Jiang noted.

Abe's administration has relaxed visa requirements for several Asian countries, which has led to an influx of Chinese visitors. Abe has set an ambitious target of doubling the number of foreign visitors from five Asian countries, including China, Reuters reported.

In a speech delivered before the Yomiuri International Economic Society in Tokyo on Monday, Kishida said that his trip to Beijing will be "the first step" in a series of summit and foreign ministers' meetings between the two countries, The Japan News reported.

A summit meeting between Japan, China and South Korea is planned in Japan later this year, and the Group of 20 major economies will gather in China in September.

Environment ministers from the three countries agreed Wednesday to cooperate on the management and reuse of disaster waste.

According to South Korea's foreign ministry, China, Japan and South Korea held talks in Seoul on Thursday on the Arctic, including discussions on scientific research in the region.

Posted in: Diplomacy

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