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2016年9月 8日 (木)

日中首脳会談 関係改善には緊張緩和が要る

The Yomiuri Shimbun
First ease tension to start improving bilateral ties between Japan and China
日中首脳会談 関係改善には緊張緩和が要る

For all the differences in what both sides assert, it is essential for Japan and China to make efforts to build trust through constructive dialogue.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hangzhou, China, on Monday and both agreed to work to improve ties between the two countries. It was their third bilateral talk and the first since April 2015.

Abe and Xi also agreed that the two countries will accelerate discussions on soon putting into operation a “maritime and air liaison mechanism” aimed at preventing accidental clashes between the Self-Defense Forces and Chinese forces in the East China Sea.

Included among the mechanism’s main pillars are establishing a hotline between the Japanese and Chinese defense authorities, and enabling naval vessels and aircraft of both countries to communicate directly on site if they get close to each other.

There was a series of incidents around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture in June, in which Chinese military vessels sailed in the contiguous zone around the islands and its military aircraft flew close by.

To avoid any untoward incident, the defense authorities of both countries should put the finishing touches on the talks so as to hurry the launch of the mechanism’s operations.

Regarding such incidents as Chinese government vessels entering Japan’s territorial waters, Abe said they would be construed as “actions that will unilaterally escalate tension,” rightly calling on China to improve the situation.

Take concrete action

Xi responded by saying that the two countries should “properly handle the issue via dialogue and consultation.” But it would only be reasonable for China to first restrain itself in terms of deeds. To fully mend the bilateral relations between Japan and China, it is vital to ease tension.

During the talks, Abe and Xi also agreed that the two countries will hold discussions on resuming negotiations on the joint development of gas fields in the East China Sea.

China has been developing the fields unilaterally, reneging on a 2008 bilateral accord. The accord must be carried out sincerely.

Referring to China’s moves to militarize artificial islands in the South China Sea, Abe urged China to abide by the international law and make efforts to dispel concern among neighboring countries.

It is unacceptable that Xi hit back against Abe’s call by saying, “Japan should exercise prudence in its words and deeds.” Ensuring the safety of sea lanes is a common benefit to the international community.

During the talks, Abe brought up the issue of North Korea firing three ballistic missiles into waters off the coast of Hokkaido. He called on Xi to cooperate in “taking concrete steps against North Korea’s repeated provocations.”

China, which is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has a certain amount of influence on North Korea. China fulfilling its responsibilities could constitute a step forward in the bilateral cooperation between Japan and China.

China has suffered a series of diplomatic setbacks in its foreign policy lately: a ruling by the court of arbitration categorically dismissed Beijing’s claim of sovereignty in the South China Sea; and its relations with South Korea have deteriorated.

The success of the summit of the Group of 20 major economies, which Xi chaired, was a challenge vital for China to recover its own prestige.

Some believe that after the end of the G-20 summit talks, China will take a more hard-line stance in both the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Wouldn’t it be to China’s advantage to contribute to the stability of Asia, rather than intensify friction with its neighboring countries?

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 7, 2016)


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