Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Japan

Newsline: Japan Demands Russian Apology Over Detention of Diplomat

Japan demanded an apology from Russia for what it saw as the unjust detention of one of its diplomats in Vladivostok, who Tokyo said was blindfolded and physically restrained after the Kremlin falsely accused him of spying. Top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno told a regular news briefing in Tokyo on Tuesday that the diplomat committed no illegal activity and Russia had violated international conventions through the detention. “The treatment and accusations are absolutely unacceptable,” Matsuno said, adding the diplomat, who was detained on Monday, is facing no major health issues. (https://news.yahoo.com/japan-demands-russian-apology-over-024811870.html) Russia expelled a Japanese consul in Vladivostok, accusing the diplomat of paying for sensitive information. Tatsunori Motoki was given 48 hours to leave the country, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, according to Tass.

Newsline: Man arrested for possessing ‘gunpowder’ near US Embassy in Tokyo

A 26-year-old male student was arrested on charges of violating the explosives control law after he was found in possession of what appeared to be homemade gunpowder while near the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo last month. Before his arrest, Shogo Koyama, a university student from Suita, Osaka Prefecture, had been quoted as saying during voluntary questioning that he had “come to throw (explosives) into the embassy” after learning how to make the mixture online, according to investigative sources. (https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220920/p2g/00m/0na/054000c) Koyama is suspected of placing around 160 grams of gunpowder into a cloth-wrapped cup and carrying it in his pocket while on the street in front the embassy around 9 p.m. on Aug. 8. He was stopped by a police officer on duty who noticed him acting suspiciously. The police have searched locations including the man’s house in Osaka Prefecture in western Japan and seized what are believed to be ingredients needed to make gunpowder.

Newsline: Diplomats from Japan, US, South Korea reaffirm joint stance on North Korea

Diplomats from Japan, the United States and South Korea reaffirmed their commitment on Wednesday to working together in response to any threat from North Korea, including a possible new nuclear test. The three senior diplomats in charge of North Korean affairs also underscored their efforts to strengthen their security partnership. Takehiro Funakoshi, director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, said the focus of the trilateral cooperation is North Korea and its accelerating nuclear and missile development. Sung Kim, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, said the three countries are prepared for “all contingencies … in responding to (North Korea’s) provocations” and to protect allies in the region. Kim Gunn, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, called for further efforts to ensure full implementation of sanctions against North Korea under United Nations Security Council resolutions. Funakoshi said he and his U.S. and South Korean counterparts, Sung Kim and Kim Gunn, were to discuss their countries’ responses to North Korea as they work together to enhance regional deterrence amid “a looming possibility of further provocations including another nuclear test.” (https://wtop.com/asia/2022/09/japan-us-s-korea-reaffirm-joint-response-to-n-korea-threat/) North Korea last conducted a nuclear test, its sixth, in 2017, and experts have noted signs of preparations for another test.

Newsline: China’s top diplomat held seven-hour talks with high-ranked Japan official

Japan’s national security adviser met China’s top diplomat for seven hours of talks that covered topics including Taiwan and the war in Ukraine, a Japanese government official said Thursday. Accepting an invitation from China, Takeo Akiba travelled to the city of Tianjin, southeast of Beijing, to meet Yang Jiechi on Wednesday afternoon, the official told AFP. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/high-ranked-japan-and-china-officials-hold-seven-hour-talks/ar-AA10MHg4) Chinese state news agency Xinhua also reported that the pair had met, weeks before the countries commemorate the 50th anniversary of their normalised ties on September 29. In recent weeks, Japan has protested Chinese missiles that it believes landed in its economic waters during military drills around Taiwan, while China called visits by Japanese ministers to a controversial war shrine a “serious provocation”. But during the meeting, which included dinner, the high-ranked men took the opportunity to discuss an array of geopolitical issues. Akiba “conveyed Japan’s position” on Taiwan to Yang, and stressed the importance of “peace and stability” in the Taiwan Strait, the National Security Secretariat official said. According to Xinhua, Yang told Akiba that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Taiwan question bears on the political foundation of China-Japan relations and the basic trust and good faith between the two countries”. Akiba and Yang also talked about a perennial controversy over disputed islets in the East China Sea — known as the Senkaku by Tokyo and the Diaoyu by Beijing — the official said. In July, Japan lodged a protest with China over a Chinese naval vessel sailing near the islands.

Newsline: Japan security adviser to meet China’s top diplomat

Arrangements are being made for Japanese national security adviser Takeo Akiba to visit China soon for talks with its top diplomat Yang Jiechi, the Jiji news agency said on Wednesday, citing unidentified government sources. (https://news.yahoo.com/japan-security-adviser-readies-meet-044126470.html) Akiba is likely to voice Japan’s concern over China’s military drills around Taiwan in the wake of a visit to the island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and propose building stable and constructive Sino-Japanese ties, the agency added.

Newsline: Diplomacy between Japan and Asean seen as challenging

Japan’s diplomacy with Asean is seen to have become more challenging following the tensions that were precipitated by United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visit to Taiwan recently. Southeast Asia is seen as a region at the forefront of rivalry between Japan and China, but Asean is known for its principle of neutrality toward major powers, and its dialogue partners. According to a report in Kyodo News, some international relations experts said Tokyo should not try to pressure Asean into its camp if it wants to maintain a relationship of mutual trust with the 10-member group. The recent Asean foreign ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh, that also saw China, Japan, Russia and the United States participating in other sessions, is seen by some as a showdown between the world powers. (https://www.msn.com/en-my/news/national/challenging-diplomacy-between-japan-and-asean/ar-AA10u2cZ) Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan had China reacting furiously as Beijing considers it part of China. The Chinese reactions included the launch of a four-day, large-scale live-fire military drill near Taiwan using ballistic missiles, some of which fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone. In an apparent protest at Japan’s siding with the core of the Western alliance over Taiwan and Ukraine, the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers — Wang Yi and Sergey Lavrov — had left their seats by the time their Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi spoke at a parallel session of the East Asia Summit last Friday. China had also canceled one-to-one talks between Wang and Hayashi shortly before they were supposed to meet in the Cambodian capital.

Newsline: China Cancels Top Diplomats’ Meeting With Japan Over G-7 Foreign Ministers Criticism

China said it called off a face-to-face meeting between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart over a G-7 statement expressing concern about Beijing’s “threatening actions” around Taiwan in the wake of a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Chinese side had earlier announced the meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, which had been expected as early as Thursday on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Cambodia. (https://news.yahoo.com/china-cancels-japan-meeting-over-081750363.html) Pelosi is set to have talks in Tokyo on Friday with senior Japanese lawmakers. The statement released by the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven on Wednesday was “irresponsible,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters. In it, the group said there was “no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait.” Hayashi on Tuesday declined to comment on Pelosi’s trip, saying only in general it was extremely important for the international community that the US and China have stable ties. Tokyo subsequently lodged a protest over Chinese military drills around Taiwan, some of which were set to be held in what Japan considers its exclusive economic zone close to its southwestern-most islands.

Newsline: Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Elected to Senate

Republican Bill Hagerty has won an open U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee, replacing retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R). Hagerty, who defeated Democrat Marquita Bradshaw, served as U.S. ambassador to Japan under President Trump from 2017 to 2019. When he stepped down as ambassador, Hagerty said, “These past two years have been the greatest of our lives. We will return to Tennessee with the warmest memories of this beautiful nation and the Japanese people. We will forever cherish the hospitality we have been shown here.” (http://www.rafu.com/2020/11/former-u-s-ambassador-to-japan-elected-to-senate/) Hagerty also fostered U.S.-Japan ties for three years from the late 1980s to the early 1990s while working in Tokyo for the Boston Consulting Group.

Newsline: China agrees on Japan’s ambassador appointment

China has agreed on Japan’s plan to name Hideo Tarumi, former deputy minister at the foreign minister’s Secretariat, as ambassador to China, sources familiar with bilateral relations said Sunday. Tarumi, 59, is expected to assume his duties in the new post as early as this year, subject to cabinet approval. (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/08/30/national/politics-diplomacy/china-agrees-japans-ambassador-appointment/) There had been speculation that Beijing may not agree on Tarumi’s appointment as the Communist Party of China was watching his advanced intelligence capability with worry, the sources said. Beijing apparently agreed on his appointment to prevent its ties with Tokyo from worsening amid an escalation in tensions between China and the United States, the sources said. But a Japanese government source said Tarumi will have difficulty acting freely in China if he gets the Beijing post.

Newsline: US Embassy warns Americans to leave Japan or risk long stay as virus cases surge

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo issued a warning to American citizens Friday that said those with plans to return should do so now or risk being stuck here for an “indefinite period.” (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/04/03/national/health-alert-u-s-embassy-tokyo-warns-americans-make-return-arrangements-now-unless-ready-stay/#.XoeQC41RU8o) Singling out Japan’s lack of widespread testing, the embassy gave a sobering assessment of the potential strain the novel coronavirus could place on Japan’s health care system should infections spike. “The Japanese Government’s decision to not test broadly makes it difficult to accurately assess the COVID-19 prevalence rate,” the embassy said on its website, referring to the illness caused by the virus. If U.S. citizens want to return to the United States from Japan they should do so now or risk staying abroad for an “indefinite period,” it said. It also noted that Americans with pre-existing medical conditions may not be able to get the medical care they were used to receiving before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. It also noted that only 11 percent of airlines’ pre-pandemic flight capacity from Japan to the United States remained in operation as of Friday. Since Japan’s entry restrictions will further reduce availability in the near future, getting back for a family emergency in a timely manner could become difficult or even impossible, the embassy said.