Photo/Illutration Photo 1 Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, left, and his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on April 2 (Pool)

BEIJING--The foreign ministers of Japan and China met for highly symbolic talks here April 2 to discuss problems in bilateral relations and ways to overcome them to build a more prosperous future together.

The talks between Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, were held at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

Hayashi demanded the release of a recently detained Japanese national who is a veteran China hand. The man works for Astellas Pharma Inc. 

During a news conference after the talks, Hayashi said he told Qin that the Japanese government “has taken a strict stance on the detention case.

In addition to demanding early release of the man, Hayashi demanded that the detainee be allowed to meet with a Japanese consul. He also called for transparency in China’s judicial system. 

Hayashi declined to tell reporters how Qin responded, citing diplomatic reasons. 

The two agreed to reopen three-party talks involving Japan, China and South Korea at summit level, as well as among foreign ministers, Hayashi said at the news conference. 

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the treaty of friendship between the two countries, which Qin referred to as the Japan-China Peace and Amity Treaty at the outset of the three-hour talks.

“Currently, the baton of our countries’ relationship has been passed to the hands of our generation, and we should make the right choices in all good conscience in accordance with history and people,” Qin said.

Qin added, “I, together with Foreign Minister Hayashi, will look back on the spirit of the treaty and strengthen our exchanges and communication to further the aims of our two countries so we can move forward by pruning away obstacles and overcoming difficulties.”

In response, Hayashi said: “Currently, the Japan-China relationship has various possibilities. But at the same time, it is at an important stage, facing many challenges and serious concerns.

“Both Japan and China are powerful nations that have an important international responsibility for peace and prosperity at both the regional and international levels,” Hayashi said.

“There are many things need to be debated,” he added.

Hayashi expressed his hopes for “a candid exchange” with Qin.

The last time a Japanese foreign minister visited China was in December 2019 when Toshimitsu Motegi went.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping met last November and confirmed they would maintain seamless communication on all levels.

Hayashi’s visit was seen as a step in building a “constructive and stable relationship” between the two countries.

(This article was written by Kazuki Uechi and Beijing Correspondent Takashi Funakoshi.)