The Japanese ambassador to China is optimistic about the potential power of three-way cooperation among East Asia’s giants.
The ambassador, Masato Kitera, said “a considerable amount of work could be done” by China and Japan to boost the freedom and openness of the East Asian economy and referred to joint participation of Beijing and Tokyo in two key regional free trade pact negotiations.
The diplomat highlighted the shared roles of Japan and China as participants of both the ongoing China-Japan-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiations and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Kitera also noted the bigger picture of “the progressing economic cooperation within the East Asia region”.
The trilateral FTA negotiation was launched at the end of 2012, and the eighth round of talks was held in Beijing on Sept 24 and 25. Observers voiced their hopes of an expected boost to the FTA talks by the upcoming China-Japan-ROK leaders’ meeting, to be held over the weekend in Seoul.
The RCEP is a major trade initiative launched in 2012 that involves the 10 ASEAN states, China, Japan, the ROK, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Participating countries agreed in August in Kuala Lumpur that the RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee should expedite the negotiations with a view to substantially concluding them by the end of 2015 with the remaining technical issues to be resolved as soon as possible in 2016, Xinhua News Agency reported.
“I firmly believe that as for Japan and China, a considerable amount of work could be done to shape the regional economy of increased freedom and increased openness,” he said.
Kitera noted that China and Japan are the second-and third-largest economic powers in the world.
The two neighbors “bear shared great responsibilities for the economic development of the Asia-Pacific region, a center of world economic growth”, he said.
He referred to the position reiterated by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that “China’s peaceful development is a chance for Japan and the international community”.
“As for the world economy and the prosperity and tranquillity of the Asia-Pacific region, it is beyond dispute that China’s role is remarkable,” Kitera said.
Recalling his taking up the post in Beijing in December, 2012, Kitera noted that “the Japan-China relationship was in a critical condition” at that time. And later, through the joint efforts of both sides, Abe met with President Xi Jinping twice, in November last year and in April.
The veteran diplomat admitted that various challenges remain between the two countries. Since difficult conditions exist, it is “indispensable” for the two countries to embark on dialogue at both official and public levels.
Kitera first visited China in 1986 and his wife was part of the 3,000-member Japanese youth delegation.
“The shared resonance means it is not easy to get involved in contention. I have told this especially to the young people in both Japan and China repeatedly,” he said.