Japanese PM Suga speaks with Xi Jinping, both agree on need for regional stability

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Sep 26, 2020, 03.59 PM(IST)

Japan's Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Both China and Japan are locked in a dispute over an island in the South China Sea. Japan maintains that it has sovereignty pn Senkaku Island. China calls the island Diaoyu and has a similar claim of sovereignty.

Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday. This was both leaders' first talk with each other. Both leaders agreed that regional stability was the need of the hour.

"Stable relations are important not just for our countries but for the region and the international community. I want to fulfil that responsibility," Suga said in comments aired by pubic broadcaster NHK after he spoke with Xi on the telephone.

Xi said that China and Japan shared extensive common interests and that there was wide scope for cooperation.

Both China and Japan are locked in a dispute over an island in the South China Sea. Japan maintains that it has sovereignty pn Senkaku Island. China calls the island Diaoyu and has a similar claim of sovereignty.

China hopes both countries will jointly maintain a stable supply chain and fair and open investment environments, China's state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying.

Suga, who became prime minister this month and has little diplomatic experience, must manage relations with Japan's bigger neighbour as tension between China and the United States increases amid the coronavirus pandemic and lingering trade friction. Suga spoke on the phone to U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday.

Japan, a close U.S. ally, is also embroiled in a dispute with China over the ownership of islands in the East China Sea, and is concerned about an uptick in Chinese military activity in the region.

A planned state visit by Xi to Japan earlier this year was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Suga said he did not discuss rescheduling the visit during the call with Xi.

(With Reuters input)