TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) – Japan’s foreign minister will visit Beijing for two days from Saturday to discuss a range of issues, including the detention of an Astellas Pharma Inc (4503.T) employee, the minister said.
Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters he would meet Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang during the visit for “an honest and frank discussion to create a constructive and stable relationship”.
The visit comes after the close U.S. ally Japan announced plans to restrict exports of 23 types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, aligning its technology trade with a U.S. push to curb China’s ability to make advanced chips.
Also clouding ties is the case of a Japanese man employed by Astellas Pharma who a company spokesperson said this week had been detained in China for unknown reasons.
The Japanese government has asked Chinese authorities to release the man, media reported.
“We plan to make our position clear on a range of issues including these during my visit to China,” Hayashi said on Friday when asked if he would raise the issue of the Astellas employee and the release of water from the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Several of Japan’s neighbours are alarmed by a plan by the Japanese utility that runs the crippled nuclear power station to release more than a million tons of radioactive water from it into the sea.
The utility and the Japanese government say the water, which has been mainly used to cool reactors in the aftermath of a 2011 tsunami that crippled the plant, has been treated, filtered and diluted and is safe.
Hayashi’s visit to China follows talks between leaders of the two countries in November, the first in almost three years.
At the time, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he conveyed his concerns over China’s increasing maritime military presence but also said the two leaders agreed to reopen diplomatic channels of communications including a visit by Japan’s foreign minister to China in the near future.
China sees Hayashi’s visit as important and in the interests of good ties, Mao Ning, a spokesperson at the Chinese foreign ministry, told a regular briefing in Beijing.
“China and Japan are close neighbours and it is in the common interest of both countries and the region to maintain healthy and stable relations between the two countries,” Mao said.
Reporting by Sakura Murakami and Rocky Swift; Additional reporting by Eduardo Baptista in Beijing; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Sonali Paul
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