Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed on Wednesday his “deep concern” over unrest in Hong Kong, and called for its peaceful resolution, in a meeting with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan.
Amid violent demonstrations in the territory, originally sparked by a controversial bill to facilitate extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China, Abe stressed the importance of the current “one country, two systems” arrangement and added that restraint and dialogue are needed, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry said.
Abe also asked Wang, who is known to be close to President Xi Jinping, to handle the case of a Japanese professor in his 40s — detained in China on suspicion of violating Chinese law — in “a positive manner,” effectively calling for his release.
Wang visited Japan for Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony held Tuesday.
The meeting of the Japanese and Chinese leaders came amid a recent thaw in bilateral ties that had previously grown frosty over wartime history and territory. The Asian neighbors now say bilateral relations have returned to a “normal track.”
Abe and Wang agreed to step up preparations for Xi’s state visit to Japan scheduled for next spring, and to make it a “meaningful” one, according to the ministry.
In the five days through Friday, Abe plans to meet with over 50 foreign leaders visiting to witness Emperor Naruhito’s proclamation of his enthronement.
Abe and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon are set to meet Thursday, when attention will focus on whether they can find ways to stem the sharp worsening of bilateral ties over wartime history and trade issues.
“It is not something that a word or two can dramatically (resolve),” Lee told South Korean reporters in Tokyo, referring to the current situation. “The goal is to create an atmosphere that can promote dialogue, at maximum.”
On Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga spoke with visiting U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
“I expressed my appreciation for President (Donald) Trump’s congratulatory statement yesterday,” Suga told a news conference, adding that Chao had said she was honored to have attended the enthronement ceremony — the equivalent of a coronation.
Trump and first lady Melania visited Japan in late May, becoming the first state guests since Emperor Naruhito ascended the throne and Japan ushered in its new Reiwa imperial era earlier that month.
“Our global partnership is an unshakeable pillar of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world. It is a testament to the noble endeavor of advancing democracy, liberty, and human dignity for all,” Trump said in a statement.