Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi voiced “serious concerns” about Chinese regime ships repeatedly entering Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in a phone conversation with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Nov. 18.
Hayashi was speaking with Wang, who is also a state councilor, for the first time since taking over as Japan’s top diplomat on Nov. 10.
The Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea have mostly been administered by Japan since 1895, but Beijing began asserting its rights over the islands in the 1970s. In China, the islands are called the Diaoyu Islands.
Japan has strongly protested repeated intrusions by Chinese vessels into the seas for decades.
On Nov. 19, four Chinese ships reportedly entered Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, the 37th case of Chinese patrol vessels entered into the territorial waters of Japan this year.
Aside from the Senkaku Islands, Hayashi conveyed to Wang human rights concerns such as those related to Hong Kong and the Xinjiang region. Hayashi also highlighted the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, where tension between the self-ruled island of Taiwan and China has been rising, the ministry added.
The Chinese regime claims the island as its own, despite the fact that Taiwan is a de facto independent country, with its own military, democratically-elected government, and constitution.
Hayashi had also mentioned in his interview on Fuji TV that Wang has invited him to visit China, but nothing has been decided yet.
Asked about U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposed “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, Hayashi said Japan will proceed based on its own situation and point of view.
Meanwhile, Hayashi met with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai in Tokyo on Nov. 17.
Following the meeting, both countries announced a new trade partnership to boost cooperation on labor, environmental, and digital trade issues, with an emphasis on “third country concerns”, a reference to China’s state-driven economic policies.
Tai shared in a statement issued by her office in Washington that initial meetings of the U.S.-Japan Partnership on Trade would take place early in 2022, with periodic meetings on a regular basis.
The Japan-U.S. partnership “will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s economic framework for the Indo-Pacific and help create sustainable, resilient, inclusive, and competitive trade policies that lift up our people and economies,” she added.
USTR’s statement made no mention of the new forum as a body aimed at negotiating new trade agreements between the world’s largest and third-largest economies.
Hayashi told Tai at the start of talks in Tokyo that the aim was to further deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance and strengthen bilateral coordination to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“Based on the strong Japan-U.S. economic relations, we’d like to further deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance, and strengthen Japan-U.S. coordination for the achievement of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said.
Reuters contributed to this article.