Japan’s foreign minister invited to China by counterpart but no plan set

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Sunday his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi invited him for an official visit during a recent phone conversation, but arrangements are not underway.

Hayashi, who became Japan’s top diplomat on Nov. 10, and Wang agreed on the need to stabilize relations between their countries but remained apart on territorial and human rights issues when they spoke on Thursday.

“Nothing is set, and no arrangements are being made,” Hayashi said while appearing on a television program.

The invitation comes as ties between Japan and its biggest trading partner become increasingly fraught over concerns about Beijing’s clampdown on Hong Kong and tensions around Taiwan.

Mutual visits by government officials from the two countries have also been largely on hiatus during the pandemic. Wang last visited Japan a year ago.

Hayashi, who was appointed after last month’s general election, has been seen as relatively friendly toward China, having previously headed a lawmakers’ group promoting exchanges between the two countries.

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