Japanese PM says dialogue with China and South Korea is key to stability

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday that talks with the Chinese leader were essential for regional and international peace and stability amid growing tensions over territorial disputes and Beijing’s increased military activity around Japan. .

“It is important to maintain stable and constructive relations” between Japan and China, Kishida said during a party leaders’ debate in Tokyo ahead of the July 10 parliamentary elections.

Asked about a possible summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping when the two countries mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations in September, Kishida said nothing was decided, but “dialogue is important. I hope to think in concrete terms.” .

Japan sees China’s increasingly assertive military activity in the East and South China Seas as a threat to some of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

Japan is particularly concerned about Chinese military and coastguard activity in the East China Sea near the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands, which Beijing claims and also calls Diaoyu.

The Japanese government said on Tuesday it had protested to Beijing after discovering that China had set up a new oil drilling rig in a disputed area in the East China Sea.

Dialogue with South Korea, despite troubled relations resulting from Japan’s actions during World War II, is also important given the deteriorating security environment in the region, Kishida said.

Asked about a possible meeting with new South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol when the two leaders are invited to the NATO summit on June 29-30 in Madrid, Kishida said nothing was decided, “but dialogue is important”.

Kishida said stable relations between the two sides depended on Seoul’s efforts to settle their differences, including one over South Korean court rulings awarding compensation to wartime Korean workers at Japanese factories.

Kishida also said he would prioritize policies aimed at mitigating soaring energy and food prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The official campaign for the election of about half of the upper house of parliament, the less powerful of its two chambers, begins on Wednesday. More than 500 candidates are expected.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Kishida has included a big increase in military capacity and spending in its campaign platform.

“I will protect people’s lives and livelihoods,” said Kishida, who with around 60 percent popular support is expected to lead his party to victory. This could allow him to remain in power uninterrupted by another election for up to three years.

Kishida has largely maintained his popularity by avoiding divisive politics while being helped by slowing COVID-19 infections and growing concerns over security concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, experts say.

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Post expires at 1:01am on Sunday July 3rd, 2022