High-ranking Japan and China officials hold seven-hour talks

Published August 18, 2022, 2:47 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

TOKYO, Japan — Japan’s national security adviser met China’s top diplomat for talks that lasted seven hours and covered topics including Taiwan and Ukraine, a Japanese government official said Thursday.

This handout picture taken on August 17, 2022 released by the National Security Agency of Japan on August 18 shows Takeo Akiba (L), secretary general of Japan’s National Security Secretariat, and China’s foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi posing for photographs in Tianjin. Handout / National Security Agency of Japan / AFP

Accepting an invitation from China, Takeo Akiba travelled to the city of Tianjin, southeast of Beijing, to meet Yang Jiechi on Wednesday afternoon, the official told AFP.

Relations between Asia’s two biggest economies have not always been friendly, with their ties long beset by issues ranging from wartime history to territorial disputes.

In recent weeks, Japan has protested Chinese missiles that it believes landed in its economic waters during military drills around Taiwan, while China called visits by Japanese ministers to a controversial war shrine a “serious provocation”.

But the two top-ranked men took the opportunity to discuss an array of geopolitical issues including China’s massive military exercises around Taiwan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

During the meeting, which included dinner, Akiba “conveyed Japan’s position” regarding Taiwan to Yang and stressed the importance of “peace and stability” in the Taiwan Strait.

The security adviser also echoed Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in “condemning and protesting” Beijing’s recent show of military might, said the official from Japan’s National Security Secretariat, which Akiba heads.

The meeting comes a fortnight after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan sparked a furious reaction from the Chinese government, which launched its largest-ever military drills around the self-ruled island that it considers its own territory.

Akiba and Yang also discussed a perennial controversy over islets in the East China Sea that are at the centre of a long-running dispute between Japan and China, according to the official, who did not give his name.

Japan lodged a protest with China in July over a Chinese naval vessel sailing near the islands.

On Wednesday, Akiba reiterated Japan’s position over the islets — known as the Senkaku by Tokyo and the Diaoyu by Beijing — as well as China’s growing maritime assertiveness, the official said.

The talks also came ahead of the 50th anniversary of normalised ties between Japan and China on September 29.

The pair agreed that the countries will “make a mutual effort to realise the constructive and stable” nature of their bilateral ties.

Their meeting also covered North Korea, and Akiba expressed Japan’s “grave concerns” over its development of missiles and nuclear weapons, the official said.