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Japan’s Kishida abandons plans to visit Beijing in Spring after Beijing pulls invite

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has abandoned plans to visit China this spring after Tokyo stoked anger in Beijing with its tough response to China’s moves in the disputed South China Sea and North Korea’s recent rocket launch, diplomatic sources have said.

China recently informed Japan that it has no plan to arrange for Kishida to visit the country, saying more time is needed to prepare a better environment, the sources said Saturday.

Earlier this year, Kishida had sounded out Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi through diplomatic channels over a plan to visit China this spring.

“I would like to move bilateral ties forward through my plan to visit China around spring,” Kishida said in a policy speech in Tokyo on Jan. 19.

Given China’s stance, however, the possibility of a visit by Kishida around April is now effectively seen as nil.

Although many Japanese Cabinet members make overseas trips during the Golden Week holidays from late April to early May, a government source said Kishida is unlikely to travel to China during that period unless there is a change of heart in Beijing.

With its strong criticism of China’s massive land-reclamation projects in the South China Sea, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has apparently touched a raw nerve in Beijing, a source with close ties to a senior Chinese official said.

This criticism, as well as Tokyo’s calls for Beijing to join hands in imposing strong international sanctions on North Korea after its fourth nuclear test and later rocket launch, left China feeling that it had lost face on the global stage, the source said.

Japan-China relations had showed signs of improvement following the resumption of bilateral summits in 2014, after hitting a low over differing views on wartime history and after Tokyo’s nationalization of the Japanese-controlled, Chinese claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.