Japan, China foreign ministers agree plan to hold security talks, improve ties

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan and China are hoping to hold security talks “in the near future”, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said on Saturday after meeting with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi in South Korea.

The talks between Kamikawa and Wang marked the first time the two senior diplomats had met since Kamikawa became Japan’s foreign minister in September and followed the first face-to-face talks in a year by their countries’ leaders earlier this month.

“We confirmed that we are seeking further close communication on a variety of issues… and we are hoping to hold security talks in the near future,” Kamikawa told reporters.

An account of the meeting released by China’s Foreign Ministry said Wang had emphasised the need for both sides to make clear they “do not pose a threat to one another”, while respecting “each other’s legitimate concerns”.

Kamikawa said Japan was seeking a lifting of a Chinese ban on all Japanese seafood-related exports in the wake of the wastewater release from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The Chinese ministry said it opposes “Japan’s irresponsible practices” and that there was a need to establish a “long-term monitoring mechanism for all stakeholders.”

Japan and China will also seek high level talks on the economy, Kamikawa said, adding that no date had been set.

China’s President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met on the sidelines of an international conference in the United States on Nov. 17, where they agreed to pursue mutually beneficial relations.

They appeared to emphasise shared economic interests amid a series of diplomatic disputes that have plagued relations between the two countries, including the release of wastewater from Fukushima into the Pacific and the detainment of a Japanese national in China.

Kamikawa said she communicated Japan’s stance on these issues, but also emphasised that Japan and China will be in close communication on the matters that divide them.

“We also discussed issues that the countries must work together on… and we were able to have a meaningful exchange of views on climate change, international insurance, development finance, as well as the North Korea situation,” she said, without elaborating.

Kamikawa and Wang will attend trilateral talks with their South Korean counterpart Park Jin on Sunday.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami in Tokyo and Casey Hall in Shanghai; Editing by Mark Potter and Mike Harrison)