Japan’s foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is expected to arrive in Beijing on Saturday for a two-day visit, the first by a Japanese top diplomat in more than three years likely to mend the ties.
Hayashi is expected to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang and other officials, as well as attend a reception hosted by the Japanese embassy. He said before his departure that he hoped to “engage in a candid and in-depth exchange of views toward establishing a constructive and stable relationship” with China.
However, the visit comes at a time when relations between Tokyo and Beijing are strained by a number of disputes, including China’s growing military presence and activities in the East and South China Seas, where Japan has territorial claims and security interests.
Despite these challenges, both sides have also stressed the importance of dialogue and cooperation on areas of common interest, such as trade, investment, climate change and regional stability. Japan and China are the world’s second-and third-largest economies respectively and have close economic ties.
Last November, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on the sidelines of a regional summit in Bangkok and agreed to continue high-level contact. There had been plans for Xi to make a state visit to Japan before the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have been postponed indefinitely.
Hayashi’s visit is seen as an attempt to maintain communication and prevent further deterioration of ties between the two countries.