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International relations

Suga raises Senkaku concerns with Chinese foreign minister

Islands should not hamper bilateral ties, Wang says

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, is the first high-ranking Chinese official to meet Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in person since the latter took office.

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed on the importance of advancing bilateral ties during their meeting Wednesday, despite lingering differences on issues like the Senkaku Islands and trade.

They met roughly 20 minutes at the Prime Minister's Office in Tokyo. Wang is the first high-ranking Chinese official to meet Suga in person after the latter became prime minister in September.

The Japanese-administered Senkakus, which China claims as the Diaoyu, were a key topic in the talk. Suga told Wang he was concerned by the repeated incursions into Japanese territorial waters around the islands by Chinese government vessels.

Suga stressed that "stable bilateral ties are extremely important for the region and for the international community as a whole."

"We want to meet that responsibility together," he said.

Wang told reporters afterward that the Senkakus issue should not stand in the way of advancing Sino-Japanese relations, and that the countries are prepared to work together on the coronavirus response and economic recovery.

"The two sides need to build genuine mutual trust, properly handle sensitive issues and advance all-round cooperation," Wang said.

Suga during their meeting also expressed concern about the situation in Hong Kong, where China has exerted increasingly strict control, and he urged Beijing's cooperation in resolving the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea decades ago.

The prime minister "strongly pushed for a positive response by China" toward scrapping import restrictions on Japanese food including beef, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.

The two sides affirmed cooperation on the Summer Olympic and Paralympic games in Tokyo, which now are being held in 2021, and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. But they did not discuss a new date for Chinese President Xi Jinping's postponed state visit to Japan.

Wang met Tuesday with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who also raised concerns about the Senkakus. During a news conference with Wang, Motegi said he "strongly urged China to take positive action" regarding the islands.

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