In a move set to potentially alter the dynamics of Asian geopolitics, foreign ministers from Japan and China are preparing for high-stakes talks in Indonesia next week. The discussions are slated to occur on the sidelines of several meetings involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to diplomatic insiders.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi from Japan and his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang are set to negotiate various contentious topics. Of particular interest is Japan’s proposal to discharge treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear facility into the sea, a plan China vehemently opposes.
The Japanese administration is keen to foster dialogue with China, especially in light of lingering tensions stemming from Beijing’s assertive military and economic posture in the region, coupled with its pressure tactics on Taiwan.
As the year marks the 45th anniversary of the 1978 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has expressed interest in attending a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This follows a face-to-face meeting between the leaders in November last year in Bangkok where they agreed to pursue “constructive and stable” relations.
Other issues for negotiation between Japan and China include the territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the increased joint military exercises between China and Russia near Japanese waters.
While in Indonesia, Hayashi may also engage in bilateral discussions with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin. The controversial Fukushima water release, which is expected to commence this summer, will likely feature prominently in these talks as well.
In addition to these bilateral dialogues, Hayashi is expected to partake in the ASEAN Regional Forum, a key security dialogue platform in the Indo-Pacific region, on July 14. This forum, one of the few North Korea participates in, includes powerful member states like the United States, China, and Russia.