Japan, China Defense Chiefs Meet to Discuss ‘Many Concerns’; First Meeting Between Current Chiefs

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Defense Minister Minoru Kihara, left, shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart, Dong Jun, ahead of their bilateral talks in Singapore on Saturday.

SINGAPORE — Defense Minister Minoru Kihara met with his Chinese counterpart, Dong Jun, on Saturday to discuss issues, such as the Senkaku Islands, on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore.

This was the first bilateral meeting between Kihara and Dong, who took his current position in December last year. The previous such meeting between Japanese and Chinese defense ministers took place in June last year also on the sidelines of the same security gathering.

At the beginning of the meeting, Kihara said, “There are many security concerns between Japan and China, such as the situation in the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands, and the Chinese military’s increased activity in the sea and airspace around Japan.”

“It is important to have candid discussions between the Japanese and Chinese defense authorities precisely because there are many security concerns between the two countries,” he added.

Dong said, “We want to seek ways to build the China-Japan relationship in a constructive and stable manner.”

China conducted a large-scale military exercise surrounding Taiwan on May 23-24. Kihara stressed the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

In Taiwan, the administration of President Lai Ching-te was launched last month. As it has taken a Japan-oriented stance, Beijing has been wary of Taipei strengthening ties with Tokyo.

A hotline between the defense authorities of Japan and China has been in operation since May last year in order to avoid accidental clashes. Kihara and Dong reaffirmed that the hotline will be operated appropriately and shared the importance of continuing dialogue between the two countries.