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Ruling parties Japan and China agree to revive bilateral forum; Gaps remain in the release of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Toshimitsu Motegi, Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party (right), shakes hands with Liu Jianchao, head of the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party, in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Wednesday.

Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi and Liu Jianchao, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Relations Department, have agreed to restart a forum for exchanges between the Japanese and Chinese ruling parties.

Conferences between the LDP-Komeito governing coalition and the Chinese Communist Party have not been held since October 2018.

“I would like to ask you to help exchanges between Japanese and Chinese ruling parties play an important role in bilateral relations,” Motegi told Liu on Wednesday during their meeting in Tokyo. Liu replied: “I want to deepen the exchanges.”

Forums were originally supposed to take place once a year, but have been suspended since the 2019 meeting was called off, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Liu also met with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Natsuo Yamaguchi, who heads Komeito. Kishida told Liu that he wants to accelerate mutually beneficial cooperation.

“Exchanges between Japanese and Chinese parties are important for the development of bilateral relations,” Kishida emphasized.

It is believed that Liu visited Japan to improve relations with Japan and attract investment to his country as the Chinese economy continues to slow.

However, there are major differences between Japan and China on issues such as the discharge of treated water into the sea by the No. 1 nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. in Fukushima.

According to an announcement from the Chinese side, during his meeting with Kishida, Liu referred to the treated water as “nuclear contaminated” and demanded that Japan properly address sensitive issues such as the release of the water into the sea.

Concerns have also arisen that the number of Japanese lawmakers serving as intermediaries between the two countries is expected to decline.

On Wednesday evening, Toshihiro Nikai, a former secretary general of the LDP and head of the Japan-China Parliamentary Friendship Association, held a meeting with Liu. It was the first public appearance in about a month for Nikai, who was temporarily hospitalized due to health problems.

A State Department official expressed concern about the lack of younger lawmakers in the association, which is largely led by experienced Diet members.

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