Stable Japan-China ties key to region, says new Japan PM

TOKYO (AP) — New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in talks on Friday to work closely together by holding high-level meetings including summits, but did not discuss the possibility of a visit by Xi to Japan.

“I told (Xi) that the stability of Japan-China relations is crucial, not only for the two countries but also for the region and for international society,” Suga told reporters after their phone conversation.

His talks with Xi late Friday were his first since taking office just over a week ago, replacing Shinzo Abe, who resigned due to poor health. A planned visit by Xi to Japan last April was indefinitely postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan had triggered protests even within Japan’s governing party because of China’s tightening of control over Hong Kong.

“We did not discuss (Xi’s) possible visit to Japan,” Suga said.

However, the leaders agreed to hold summits and other high-level meetings to cooperate in bilateral, regional and international issues, he said.

Relations between the two Asian rivals have improved recently as China faces heightened tensions with the United States.

Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. PHOTO: AP