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The Nikkei View

China's release of Japanese citizens would be first step for stable relations

Failure to resolve the issue is major hindrance to economic ties

Chinese Premier Li Qiang, right, meets visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound on April 2.   © Kyodo

In the first visit to China by a Japanese foreign minister in three years, Yoshimasa Hayashi met with newly appointed Premier Li Qiang, top diplomat Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Qin Gang over the weekend. The fact that China received Hayashi with such high-ranking leaders likely marks a significant development in the long-troubled bilateral relationship.

Nevertheless, to ensure more stable ties going forward, Beijing must promptly release detained Japanese nationals, including an Astellas Pharma employee, who was recently held for unknown reasons. As long as he and other Japanese citizens remain in state custody, foreign companies, which are responsible for the safety of their employees, cannot feel secure in sending executives and employees to China.

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