Japan, China to hold security talks next week, Japan foreign minister says

·1 min read
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi visits United Nations in New York

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan and China will hold security talks next week, Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said after meeting his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

The agreement to hold the security talks, the first to be held in four years, came after Hayashi and China's top diplomat Wang Yi spoke ahead of the conference.

"It is important for us to have frank discussions precisely because there are a number of pressing matters in our relationship", Hayashi said to reporters, highlighting a territorial spat in the East China Sea and increasing Chinese and Russian military presence around Japanese waters as some of the issues that need to be discussed.

The disputed East China Sea islets claimed by both China and Japan have long been a sticking point in bilateral relations. China calls the islands Diaoyu, while Japan calls them Senkaku.

Japan and China will hold talks on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a statement released by Japan's foreign ministry.

Hayashi said he also discussed the identification of surveillance balloons in Japan's skies with his Chinese counterpart, telling Wang that "whatever country the balloons may belong to, entering a foreign country's airspace without permission constitutes an airspace violation".

Japan "strongly suspects" Chinese surveillance balloons had entered Japanese territory at least three times since 2019, and is considering relaxing requirements on the use of weapons to defend against intrusions, Kyodo news agency reported.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Jane Merriman)