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EDITORIAL | In Japan-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Only One Side Wins 

Japan's leaders need to put their political lives on the line to negotiate seriously with China. Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi's visit failed to do that.



Japanese FM Yoshimasa Hayashi meets with Wang Yi, a member of the CCP Politburo and China's top diplomat, at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on April 2. (© Kyodo)

The Japanese government has declared that the recent Japan - China Foreign Ministers Meeting held in Beijing resulted in tangible "results." 

What on earth are they thinking?

The reported contents of the meeting show that none of Japan's core concerns were addressed. 

Not even one of the Japanese nationals arbitrarily detained in China was released. They were all arrested in China without the grounds for their detentions even being clarified.

And even while the meeting was in progress, China Coast Guard vessels continued to intrude into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands of Ishigaki City in Okinawa Prefecture. In fact, they set a new record for the longest continuous incursions to date.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said he underscored the importance of "peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait." Nevertheless, his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, showed no inclination of hearing the message. Instead, Qin simply repeated the old refrain that Beijing "will not allow interference in the Taiwan question or damage to China's sovereignty in any form." 

Nor did the Chinese side give any indication that it intended to change its provocative military behavior around Japan. That included China's increased military cooperation with Russia and Chinese activities in the South China Sea.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi (left) holds talks with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang (right)at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on April 2. (© Kyodo)

Achieving…More 'Dialogue' 

Despite this lack of positive outcomes, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno held a press conference on March 3. In it, he merely cited the two foreign ministers' agreement to work for the resumption of the trilateral dialogue framework as an "important achievement." 

That framework simply consists of talks among the heads of state or foreign ministers of Japan, China, and South Korea. 

China is a neighbor, as well as major economic and military power. Communication between our two countries is therefore necessary. 

That is all the more reason why Japan should tell China now that we are irate with its hardline tactics. We should make clear our determination to never knuckle under to its attempts at coercion. 

It is disconcerting to see an effort made to revive the trilateral dialogue involving Tokyo, Beijing, and Seoul in order to provide something to celebrate. The Chinese are bound to question how serious Japan is when it makes serious demands. 

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi meets with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at Zhongnanhai in Beijing on April 2. (Pool photo)

Hugging More Chinese Communists

Hayashi also met with Premier Li Qiang, number two behind President Xi Jinping, and Wang Yi, the top Communist Party Politburo member in charge of foreign affairs. This is not the time to exult at having the opportunity to meet with such Chinese communist luminaries. 

Japan's leaders need to put their political lives on the line to negotiate seriously. Their duty is to protect the Japanese people and Japan's territory, territorial waters, territorial airspace and national interests, as well as regional peace.

If our diplomats have had such exchanges, those details should be made known. Simply saying that Japan's position was conveyed to the other party is extremely feeble at best. 

Timing is also important in diplomacy. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida demonstrated this in his visit to Kyiv. It coincided nearly simultaneously with Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow. Consequently, Japan was able to show the world how very different it is from China.

Right now, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's stopovers in the United States before and after her visit to Central America are attracting considerable attention. The fact that Japan's foreign minister visited Beijing at such a time surely delighted China, which is determined to drive a wedge between Japan and Taiwan. 


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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