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Foreign Minister Taro Kono’s selfie with China spokeswoman draws mixed reactions

JIJI

Foreign Minister Taro Kono’s Twitter selfie with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has created a buzz — but not everyone is smiling.

The photo was posted on Kono’s Twitter account on Jan. 28, when he held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Beijing. Hua, known for her tough looks, was smiling in the photo with Kono.

“With a famous Chinese lady!” Kono wrote in English.

Many Twitter users welcomed the post, seeing it as a sign of friendly Japan-China ties.

But Hiroyuki Konishi of the opposition Democratic Party, a member of the Upper House, criticized Kono on Twitter.

“She is just a spokesperson of the Chinese government. She is a lower-ranking person, not a partner of diplomatic negotiations,” Konishi said. “Taking a photo with such a person with a flirtatious grin is not diplomacy but tributary.”

In response, Kono expressed surprise that somebody might care about a person’s “rank” when taking photos. “That sounds exhausting,” Kono said in a posting.

Kono told a news conference Friday that he has no plans to give up his Twitter diplomacy.