On Wednesday, the Japanese foreign minister urged Beijing to “play a responsible role” in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, during his first meeting with his Chinese counterpart in six months.
Japan joined its Western allies in cracking down on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, while Beijing refused to condemn Moscow’s aggression.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the Russian invasion was a “clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and other international laws.”
The text added that he “urged China to play a responsible role in maintaining international peace and security.”
This exchange is the first between the two ministers since November, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry, and is part of the context of rising concerns about international geopolitical tensions. China and Russia are seen as enhancing their coordination.
The talks come as US President Joe Biden is scheduled to arrive in Japan this weekend after a visit to South Korea. He will hold bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and participate in a meeting of a quartet that includes Australia and India in addition to the United States and Japan.
This informal alliance, called the Quartet, is seen as a means of pressure on China, which continues to strengthen its economic and military weight in the region.
Japan is concerned about Beijing’s growing military influence in the Pacific. During his talks with Wang, Hayashi discussed the issue of the disputed islands between the two countries and the situation in the East and South China Seas.
But China is also Japan’s largest trading partner, which itself wants to avoid being drawn into tensions between Beijing and Washington.
Hayashi said China and Japan should “tell each other what to say and engage in dialogue,” but cautioned that bilateral relations “are facing various difficulties and Japan’s public opinion is very tough on China.”
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