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Chinese, Japanese defence ministers agree to strengthen trust

Chinese, Japanese defence ministers agree to strengthen trust

China and Japan agreed to boost mutual trust and strengthen communication. As SCMP reports, the defence ministers of both countries have met and discussed the latest developments and issues in their policies.

Both China and Japan intend to build a constructive bilateral security relationship, according to the heads of the defence ministries. Amid growing Tokyo concerns over Beijing’s increasing military assertiveness in the East and South China seas, the meeting became great opportunity to ease the tensions.

“We want to strengthen communication and boost mutual trust to build a constructive bilateral security relationship,” China’s Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe hailed the start of the meeting.

For a Japanese defence chief, it was the first visit to China since 2009, the experts said. The move is reflecting a recent thaw in bilateral ties that had previously grown frosty over wartime history and territory.

Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono also made clear that there were still various concerns between the two countries, including the East China Sea.

Tokyo expects Kono’s two-day visit to lay the groundwork for prime minister Shinzo Abe’s planned three-day trip to China from Monday for a trilateral summit with Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.

“We have strong concerns especially regarding Chinese vessels and planes in the sea and airspace surrounding the Senkaku Islands,” Kono said, referring to islands known in China as the Diaoyus.

According to Mr Kono, he planned to have a “frank discussion” over various security and defence issues with Wei. The both countries are seeking to soon open a hotline under the bilateral Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism launched in June last year.

Their joint plan is aimed at averting accidental clashes between Japan’s Self-Defence Forces and the Chinese military at sea and in the air.

Both China and Japan have yet to settle a dispute over the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Chinese vessels have entered Japanese territorial waters near the islets on numerous occasions.

During his last visit to Beijing in August as foreign minister, Kono told his then Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that “a real solution” was needed regarding the islets in order to deepen ties between the two countries.