Analysis & Opinions - The Diplomat

Japan, China Hold Foreign Minister Call Days after NATO Chief's Visit

| Feb. 07, 2023

Tokyo continues to try to keep relations with Beijing stable even as it deepens military cooperation with NATO and other partners.

On February 2, Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang held a 50-minute phone conversation, in which they agreed to maintain close communication "at all levels" and explored how to mend bilateral ties. Hayashi and Qin pledged to work toward "constructive and stable relations," despite issues that both ministers pointed out.

In many ways, the two sides seem to agree on what the relevant issues are – but are still talking past each other about the crux of the issues. Hayashi raised the point that Japan had "serious concern" about China's intensifying military activities near Japan, specifically over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, while Qin requested that Japan stop provocations by "right-wing forces" regarding the disputed islands. Hayashi underscored "the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," while Qin asked for Japan to be "cautious" in word and deed regarding Taiwan.

Hayashi also asked that China lift the Japanese food products import ban that has been in place since after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, while Qin noted China's concern about Japan's decision to discharge "nuclear-polluted water" from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The two sides also discussed COVID-19 related travel restrictions, using the fact that 2023 is the 45th anniversary of the 1978 bilateral Peace and Friendship Treaty as an opportunity to improve ties, and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It was the first conversation between Hayashi and China's new foreign minister, who took up his post in late December. Previously, Qin was ambassador to the United States....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Pollmann, Mina.“Japan, China Hold Foreign Minister Call Days after NATO Chief's Visit.” The Diplomat, February 7, 2023.