BEIJING (Kyodo) Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said Sunday he agreed with senior Chinese officials to urge North Korea not to launch what it says is a satellite but the rest of the world suspects is a long-range ballistic missile.
Nakasone made the remarks after talks in Beijing with his counterpart, Yang Jiechi, Premier Wen Jiabao and State Councilor Dai Bingguo.
“Tension is rising, and we agreed to seek (North Korea’s) restraint,” Nakasone said.
He told the Chinese officials that Japan believes a launch would be in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in 2006 that prohibits North Korea from engaging in any ballistic missile activities.
“The Chinese did not say whether they see it that way or not, but of course they have deep concerns and have been working to urge restraint,” Nakasone told reporters in a Beijing hotel.
On Japan-China relations, Nakasone said the two sides agreed not to let the latest flareup over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea affect the overall relationship.
“Both sides are of the view that we should not let these issues cast a shadow on bilateral relations,” he said.
Nakasone’s visit to China, his first since taking office in September, came shortly after Beijing issued a stern protest against recent remarks by Prime Minister Taro Aso after he said the disputed islets are Japanese territory and fall under the security alliance between Japan and the United States.
Nakasone said he also conveyed to Chinese officials Aso’s wish to visit China soon.
“I asked for the Chinese side’s coordination and consideration,” he said. Wen replied that China will “proceed with considerations,” Nakasone added.
During a meeting Saturday, Nakasone expressed concern about China’s military buildup, to which Yang replied that China is boosting transparency and the increase in defense spending is mainly for raising the living standards of its troops, according to a Japanese official.
The two foreign ministers also discussed the ongoing global economic crisis and agreed on the need to combat protectionism in trade, the official said of the Saturday meeting.
On the bilateral front, Nakasone and Wen agreed on exchanges of about 1,500 teachers over a three-year period.
They agreed to launch negotiations for the conclusion of two treaties for bilateral cooperation in the criminal and judicial fields.
One accord would allow criminals who commit a crime in the other country to serve prison time in their country of origin.
The other pact would allow both countries to hand over criminals who flee to their country of origin after committing a crime in the other country.
Nakasone’s visit is expected to be followed by further bilateral exchanges, including a visit to Japan in late March by Li Changchun, the fifth-ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party.
In addition to the proposed visit by the prime minister, a trip by Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada is under consideration.
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