Japan has urged China to become more transparent about its expanding military after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a goal of making his country a strong power.
The two countries’ foreign affairs and defense officials held security talks in Tokyo on Friday, the first time since the Communist Party of China’s congress, which closed Tuesday.
China consistently sticks to the path of peaceful development and a national defense policy that is wholly defensive, the Chinese participants said.
The Japanese side asked China to explain its ballooning military expenses and naval and aviation activities near Japan, stressing that such explanations were important in nurturing mutual trust.
“It is true that mutual concerns exist over the respective security policies of Japan and China,” Senior Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba of Japan said.
In response, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou stressed that the lack of mutual trust, especially in the political field, poses a fundamental obstacle to improving and developing bilateral relations.
The two also discussed responses to North Korea’s missile and nuclear development programs and China’s maritime expansion.
The Chinese delegation was quoted by the ministry as saying the country has stayed on the path of “peaceful development” in terms of defense policy, and that the stance will not change following the congress.
The Japanese and Chinese officials also touched on the implementation of a maritime hotline aimed at avoiding accidental clashes in the East China Sea. Both agreed to continue efforts to start the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism as soon as possible, the ministry said.
Japan and China have been struggling to make a breakthrough on the issue as Tokyo has argued that the waters and airspace around the Senkaku Islands, which it administers, should not be subject to the mechanism, but Beijing is opposed to that.
The territorial dispute escalated particularly after Tokyo effectively decided to bring the Senkakus under state control in 2012.
The security dialogue was the first since the one in Beijing in November last year.
Later, Kong had intensive discussions on North Korea with Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau. They confirmed cooperation to ensure the full implementation of the U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions against North Korea.
Ahead of these meetings, Kong paid a courtesy visit to Foreign Minister Taro Kono. They discussed the schedules for an envisioned trilateral summit meeting involving Japan, China and South Korea and Kono’s visit to China, expected in mid-November. Japan hopes to hold the three-way summit by year-end.
The Foreign Ministry in Tokyo added that Kono told Kong Japan and China have a chance to deepen their relations this year, when the two nations marked the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties.
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