• Kyodo


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi plans to visit Japan next week for meetings with senior Japanese officials during, which they are likely to focus on ways to resume reciprocal business travel, Japanese government sources said Wednesday.

During Wang's two-day visit from Tuesday, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi is expected to demand that Beijing stop intruding into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in an attempt to undermine Tokyo's control over the group of islets in the East China Sea, according to the sources.

Wang, who doubles as state councilor, plans to have a separate meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, they said.

It would be Suga's first face-to-face meeting with a senior Chinese official since taking office in September.

In the talks with Wang, Japan does not intend to take up the postponed state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping because "now is a time to prioritize measures against novel coronavirus," according to a Japanese Foreign Ministry source.

Xi's first state visit to Japan since he became president in 2013 was originally planned for around spring but was put off due to the pandemic.

Japan intends to convey its opposition to frequent intrusions into Japanese waters around the Senkakus, which Beijing claims and calls Diaoyu, according to the sources.

Tokyo is likely to express concern about a recently unveiled Chinese bill that could be interpreted as allowing its coast guard to use weapons against Japanese fishing ships operating near the islands.

Economically, the two neighbors have close ties and have been in talks since July to resume reciprocal short- and long-term business travel that has been suspended in the wake of the outbreak of the virus, first detected in Wuhan, central China, late last year.

The two sides had hoped to restart travel as early as mid-November but have not been able to because of a resurgence of coronavirus infections in Japan.

In the talks, the top Japanese officials and Wang are also expected to agree to cooperate toward early ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a free trade agreement signed Sunday among the two countries and 13 other Asia-Pacific economies.

RCEP, the world's biggest trade deal encompassing a third of global gross domestic product and population, is the first FTA that Japan has inked with China.

Wang may express his wariness about Japan's vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, which China regards as a concept that pits the United States, Australia and India against Beijing.

Suga and Motegi are also expected to exchange views on North Korea and seek China's support in resolving the long-standing issue of Pyongyang's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the sources.

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