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Kishida, China’s Li meet for bilateral talks in Seoul; Major issues including the import ban on maritime products, Taiwan


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters before leaving for South Korea at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Sunday morning.

SEOUL – Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang in Seoul on Sunday for their first bilateral talks since Li took over as premier in March last year.

During their talks, Kishida was expected to call on Beijing to lift its import ban on Japanese maritime products. He was also likely to express concerns about military exercises that China conducted in the waters around Taiwan on Thursday and Friday.

Kishida and Li spoke briefly on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit held in Indonesia last September.

China suspended all imports of Japanese marine products after Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. last August, treated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant began dumping into the ocean. Kishida also called for the Chinese import ban to be lifted when he spoke to Li in September.

During a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco last November, Kishida also called for an end to the ban. The two leaders agreed to “find ways to resolve issues through consultation and dialogue” over the treated water.

In response, an expert group set up by the two governments began consultations in January. However, China is demanding an environmental assessment of the soil and other materials around the factory, and no progress has been made in consultations.

At Sunday’s summit meeting, Kishida was expected to again call on the Chinese side to respond based on scientific evidence and for progress in expert consultations.

Kishida will also push for the early release of Japanese nationals held by Chinese authorities and raise the situation in the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, where Chinese government vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters .

Following bilateral talks with Xi in November, Kishida was also expected to reaffirm commitment to promoting a mutually beneficial strategic relationship between Japan and China, pursuing the objectives of both sides.

Kishida and Yoon meet

Kishida also held bilateral talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at the presidential office in Seoul on Sunday.

They were expected to discuss the resumption of defense exchanges between the two countries, which have been effectively suspended after a South Korean naval vessel aimed its fire control radar at a Maritime Self-Defense Force aircraft.

Sunday’s meeting marked Kishida’s tenth face-to-face conversation with Yoon. Their previous meeting took place last November.

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