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Japanese Foreign Minister Says Summit With China Possible 


FILE - Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi attends the ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Aug. 4, 2022.

Japan’s foreign minister told the Nikkei news service Friday that he was working with China to arrange a summit meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping next month.

In an exclusive interview with the Japanese news agency, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said he hoped the two sides would schedule the meeting and improve ties in time to mark the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between their nations in September.

Hayashi told Nikkei, "Japan is always open to dialogue," and called for a bilateral effort toward constructive and stable ties.

The news agency reports Kishida and Xi have not spoken to each other since a phone call in October 2021. Xi's last face-to-face meeting with a Japanese leader occurred in December 2019. But Kishida views stable ties with China as a priority under his shift toward what he calls a "realist" diplomacy for a new era.

Japan’s foreign minister said Tokyo and Beijing would negotiate the details of a summit, including the format, whether they will meet in person, virtually or by phone.

He said the meeting was most likely to take place online in the next few months, but the talks could be held in a third country, such as on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia in November.

He indicated meeting either in China or Japan was considered unlikely at this time. The news agency said there was political opposition in Japan to the idea of Kishida making an official trip to China, given the recent increase in Chinese military activity in the Taiwan Strait.

Chinese military planes have crossed the strait's median line, the unofficial buffer separating Taiwan and the mainland, several times over the past few weeks in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island. Five ballistic missiles fell in Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Hayashi condemned China's actions but said it is “in times like these that communication is crucial." He said he hoped the Taiwan issue would be resolved peacefully through dialogue.

Nikkei said Takeo Akiba, secretary-general of Japan’s National Security Secretariat, and Chinese foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi held a seven-hour meeting Wednesday in Tianjin, China.

They confirmed the two nations would continue to hold a dialogue. Hayashi's remarks on a potential summit likely reflected the progress made at this meeting.

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