Prompt release of detained Japanese national urged by foreign minister in Beijing meeting

Yoshimasa Hayashi

2nd April 2023 – (Beijing) Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi met with his Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, in Beijing on Sunday to discuss the recent detention of a Japanese national in China. The detainee, an employee of Astellas Pharma Inc, was held for unknown reasons, according to the company spokesperson. The meeting marked the first visit of a Japanese foreign minister to Beijing in over three years, as both nations sought to find common ground amidst rising regional tensions.

During the meeting, Hayashi protested against the recent detention and urged China to promptly release the Japanese national. He also stressed the need for transparency in legal processes and asked China to secure a fair and safe business environment. However, he did not elaborate on China’s reaction to his statements.

Hayashi also conveyed Japan’s grave concerns over an increase in China’s military activity, particularly its closeness with Russia and its maritime presence in the East China Sea. Both nations affirmed the importance of continuing dialogue on issues related to national security, according to Hayashi.

He also spoke to Qin about the importance of ensuring peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Qin warned Japan not to interfere in the Taiwan issue or undermine China’s sovereignty in any form. He stressed that Taiwan is “the core of China’s core interests.” Tensions have been escalating over Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, while the democratically elected government in Taipei rejects Beijing’s claims.

In August, Japan lodged a diplomatic complaint after five ballistic missiles launched by the Chinese military fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, near disputed islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

Following the U.S., Japan recently announced export restrictions on semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Qin warned his Japanese counterpart “not to play accomplice to an evildoer.” However, Hayashi clarified that the restrictions were not aimed at any specific country.