First visit to China by a Japanese FM in more than three years

Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s top diplomat, will travel to China this weekend, marking the first time in more than three years that he has done so.

According to the ministry, the travel on April 1-2 will involve discussions with Hayashi’s Chinese counterpart Qin Gang and will be the first overseas visit by a Japanese foreign minister since December 2019.

Since China’s military might in the region has been increasing, relations between Tokyo and Beijing have become tense.

Yet in November of last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met outside of a summit in Bangkok and agreed to keep in touch on a high level.

Tokyo has accused Chinese ships of making more incursions into its territorial seas, particularly close to the Senkaku Islands, which Beijing refers to as the Diaoyus and Tokyo as the Senkakus.

Tokyo also demanded this week that Beijing free a Japanese businessman who is being jailed by Chinese authorities on vague charges of breaking domestic rules.

Japan has revised its defense and security plan in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing Chinese military power.

It made plans to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP by 2027 last year.

China and Japan, the second and third-largest economies in the world, are important trading partners. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Xi was scheduled to pay a state visit to Tokyo.

But since then, ties have deteriorated noticeably as Beijing builds up its military, projects dominance throughout the region and beyond, and adopts a tougher stance on territorial disputes.

AFP

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