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In their first telephone talks, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, remained far apart on the issue of the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands and human rights.

In the talks Thursday, Hayashi expressed “grave concerns” over repeated intrusions by Chinese government ships into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkakus in the East China Sea. China claims the uninhabited islands, which it calls Diaoyu.

Hayashi, who took office earlier this month, also expressed serious concern about the situations in not only the East and South China seas, but also over human rights issues in Hong Kong and China’s far-west Xinjiang region.

In addition, he also singled out the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Wang, for his part, expressed China’s unchanged stance on these matters, according to the Japanese side.

In the talks, Hayashi stressed the government’s plan to emphasize dialogue and discussions with China.

Considering next year’s 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two Asia powerhouses, Hayashi called for the establishment of a “constructive and stable Japan-China relationship.” Wang agreed to the proposal.

The two did not take up a postponed visit to Japan by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, sources with access to the talks said.

Hayashi asked for China’s understanding and support in immediately resolving the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals decades ago. The Japanese and Chinese foreign ministers agreed to cooperate closely on the issue.

They also exchanged views on international issues, including climate change and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Ahead of his talks with Wang, Hayashi had a telephone conversation with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The two foreign ministers confirmed that their countries would continue to strengthen ties in the Indo-Pacific region.

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