Japan Business Delegation in Beijing for 1st Time in 4 Years; Participants Scheduled to Meet with Premier Li Qiang

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kosei Shindo, chairman of Nippon Steel Corp., speaks in December 2020.

BEIJING — A delegation of the Japan-China Economic Association has arrived in Beijing for a visit that is expected to include meetings with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and other officials.

Led by Kosei Shindo, chairman of Nippon Steel Corp., the delegation arrived on Tuesday and is scheduled to stay through Friday. This is the association’s first delegation to China in about four years, and it will discuss economic issues between the two countries and seek improvements.

“We want to support further development of bilateral relations from an economic perspective, through a frank exchange of views,” Shindo said at the welcoming ceremony held by the Chinese side.

Ren Hongbin, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, responded, “Maintaining and developing cooperative relations between China and Japan is the mission of the business communities of both countries.”

Japan and China are facing many issues. The arrest of a Japanese employee of Astellas Pharma Inc. on suspicion of violating China’s anti-espionage law has raised concern among Japanese companies about the safety of their staff. Visa exemptions for short-term stays, which were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, have not been resumed, disrupting business travel. The delegation intends to seek improvements in these areas.

It will also call for an end to Beijing’s suspension of all imports of Japanese marine products in response to the release into the ocean of treated water from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“Dialogue must be maintained, especially when there are various political, economic and other issues between our two countries,” said delegation member Masakazu Tokura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren). “We want to convey the desire of the business community to create a free and open economy.”

The Japan-China Economic Association had sent delegations to China almost every year since 1975, but the program was suspended after the 2019 visit due to the pandemic.

About 200 people are participating in the latest trip, including Tokura and Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Ken Kobayashi.