China’s close relations with Russia ‘worrisome’ for Japan

By Javier Picazo Feliu

Madrid, Jun 29 (EFE).- China’s role on the margins of the war in Ukraine and its close relationship with Russia are “quite worrisome” for Japan, according to a spokesperson for the office of Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida.

Koichiro Matsumoto told Efe at the Nato summit taking place in Madrid that Japan was watching “close relations being built up between Russia and China.”

“We have been pushing for China to act more responsibly,” he added.

He underlined that before the Russian invasion, Vladimir Putin visited Beijing one the eve of the 2022 Winter Olympics, where he joined China in signing a joint declaration opposed to Nato’s further expansion.

China’s stance on the Russian invasion in conjunction with their repeated joint military flights in the Sea of Japan are “quite worrisome” for Tokyo, the spokesman added.

Japan was taking part in its first ever Nato summit as a guest nation representing Indo-Pacific interests along with South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

“We are so delighted to be here upon the invitation of Nato,” Matsumoto said of the summit where Nato published a new Strategic Concept for the first time in 12 years.

“We have been requested by Nato’s headquarters to come up with our concerns in the region, in East Asia,” he added.

The spokesman said there were “a lot of instances” in which China has tried to change the status quo in the region by force, including in the East China Sea where, he added, Beijing’s staged incursions in territorial waters 35 times last year and nine times so far in 2022.

“Of course, I don’t need to mention what is going on in the South China Sea. So we are trying to bring up all these issues, plain and clear, to the eyes of the Nato alliance members.”

Kishida recently outlined Japan’s intention to significantly boost its defense capacity over the next five years, including a revision of its National Security Strategy, which was first set out in 2000, the spokesman said.

He highlighted that Japan had “very difficult neighbors” such as North Korea, which this year has test launched up to 15 missiles, while China has also modernized its nuclear arsenal.

Matsumoto made it clear, however, that the situation would not push Tokyo to revisit its policy on nuclear arms.

He added that Russia would not be invited to the Group of Seven Summit next year in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the first in the world to be hit by atomic weapons in 1945.

Japan’s prime minister has recently drawn correlations between the situation in Ukraine and a hypothetical conflict in the Asia-Pacific region, specifically with Taiwan amid heightened Chinese military activity that has sparked concerns of a potential invasion of the island that is claimed by Beijing.

“We cannot be totally indifferent to the security of the Taiwan Strait. And we would like to see a peaceful resolution,” the spokesman said.EFE


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