TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday agreed that their countries will continue close high-level cooperation over bilateral, regional and global issues.
The two leaders shared the view in a 30-minute telephone conversation, the first occasion for Suga to talk with Xi since he took office Sept. 16.
Xi’s planned visit to Japan as a state guest, postponed amid the novel coronavirus crisis, was not mentioned in the phone talks, Suga told reporters.
“Stable relations between Japan and China are extremely important not only for the two countries but also for the region and the international community,” Suga told Xi, stressing his wish to fulfil their responsibilities together.
Xi congratulated Suga on his inauguration as prime minister and expressed his eagerness to develop China’s relationship with Japan further.
The phone talks, arranged at the request of Japan, marked the first direct conversation between the two countries’ top leaders since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met Xi in Beijing last December.
Following Suga’s inauguration, Xi sent a congratulatory telegram that stressed Beijing’s stance of attaching greater importance to its ties with Tokyo amid escalating tensions between China and the United States.
The two leaders confirmed cooperation in the fight against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Chinese coast guard ships are repeating intrusions into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, claimed by Beijing.
The Japanese Self-Defense Forces have scrambled fighter jets frequently due to the approach of Chinese aircraft to Japanese airspace.
Suga told Xi that he is concerned about the situation in the East China Sea. Suga also expressed a wish to thoroughly discuss issues drawing the strong interest of the region and the international community, bearing in mind Beijing’s tighter control over Hong Kong.
According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, Xi told Suga that Beijing wants to address important and sensitive issues, such as history, appropriately and work hard to establish bilateral relations fit for a new era.
Despite the coronavirus crisis, the two countries’ economies and trade activities have grown, demonstrating their huge potential, Xi was quoted as saying.
Xi called for maintaining supply chain stability and fair and open environments for trade and investment, asking Tokyo not to follow the United States, which is stepping up pressure on China, according to Xinhua.
Earlier on Friday, Suga had phone talks with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in which he sought cooperation from India to realize the Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision.
Suga and Modi agreed to resume mutual visits by the two countries’ top leaders as soon as the pandemic is brought under control.