Japan’s foreign minister on Wednesday urged Beijing to “play a responsible role” in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, in its first meeting with its Chinese counterpart in six months.
Japan joined its Western allies in taking tough sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, but Beijing refused to denounce the Moscow aggression.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said in a statement that Russia’s attack on his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi was “a clear violation of UN charters and other international law.”
“China must play a responsible role in maintaining international peace and security,” he said.
According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the exchange between the two ministers is the first since November and has been part of a context of growing concern over international geopolitical tensions. China and Russia appeared to be increasing their coordination.
The talks come in the wake of US President Joe Biden’s arrival in Japan this weekend following a visit to South Korea. He will hold bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and attend a meeting of the Quartet with the United States and Japan, as well as Australia and India.
This informal alliance, known as the Quad, is seen as a means of putting pressure on China, which is constantly strengthening its economic and military burden in the region.
Japan is concerned about Beijing’s growing military strength in the Pacific. During his talks with Wang Zhao, Hayashi discussed the issue of 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 wants to avoid tensions between Beijing and Washington.
Hayashi said China and Japan should “say what they have to say to each other and engage in dialogue,” but bilateral relations “face various difficulties and public opinion in Japan is very harsh on China.”