TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Chinese President Xi Jinping did not discuss the postponement of Xi’s state visit to Japan during their first conference call on Friday evening, Suga told reporters.
The two leaders agreed to coordinate at a high level, including person-to-person, on bilateral and international issues, according to Suga. Xi also congratulated him on becoming prime minister, the 71-year-old new leader said.
Xi was due to visit Japan in April. But the visit – which took months of planning and was hailed as a potential turning point in Sino-Japanese relations – was postponed until March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Suga, who took office on September 16, said he told Xi that “stable relations between Japan and China are extremely important not only bilaterally” but also to the rest of the world.
“In the future, I want to discuss in depth the issues of great interest to the region and the international community,” he said.
Japanese government sources said Suga was referring to tensions in the East China Sea – mainly over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, which China claims to be the Diaoyu Islands – and Beijing’s new national security law for Hong Kong.
Chinese government ships surveyed the waters around the Senkakus for more than 100 consecutive days this summer. The sources did not clarify whether Suga mentioned the Senkaku during his call with Xi.
China’s Xinhua News Agency reported that Xi had told Suga that he was ready to join him in promoting a new development in relations between the two countries.
“China stands ready to work with the new Japanese government to properly deal with key sensitive issues, including historical issues, continue to strengthen mutual political trust, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and expand people-to-people exchanges,” said Mr. Xi.
Noting that China and Japan are “close and crucial neighbors and partners,” Xi stressed that “the constant expansion of common interests for the benefit of the two peoples is the essential need of the new era for Sino relations. -Japanese, ”Xinhua said. .
Xi also said that China supports Japan in staging successful Olympics.
Some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Japan have urged the government to reverse plans for Xi’s state visit in light of the situations in Senkaku and Hong Kong. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the main government spokesperson, told a press conference ahead of Suga-Xi’s call that “we are not at a point where we can discuss of a specific itinerary “for a visit.
Suga had telephone interviews with 10 world leaders and heads of international organizations in the first 10 days after taking office.
He launched his diplomatic activity on September 20. His first appeal was to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, followed by US President Donald Trump. Talks with his neighbors China and South Korea took place a week after he became prime minister.