Japanese PM voices security concerns in first talks with China’s Xi

BANGKOK: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday (Nov 17) pressed Chinese leader Xi Jinping on regional security issues including North Korea, as Pyongyang fired the latest missile in a record blitz that has sent nuclear fears soaring.

Kishida said he had voiced “serious concerns” in his first face-to-face talks with Xi as the leaders of Asia’s two biggest economies met on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim summit in Bangkok.

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile as Xi and Kishida prepared to meet, and warned Washington and its allies to expect a “fiercer” military response.

China and Japan are key trading partners, but relations have soured in recent years as Beijing bolsters its military, projects power regionally, and takes a harder line on territorial rivalries.

“On North Korea, I expressed our expectation that China will play a role including in the UN security council,” Kishida told reporters after the talks – the first in-person meeting between Chinese and Japanese leaders in three years.

Xi flew to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Bangkok from a G20 summit in Bali where US President Joe Biden also pushed him to use his influence to rein in North Korea’s activities.

China is Pyongyang’s main diplomatic and economic ally, and in May it joined Russia in vetoing a US-led bid at the UN Security Council to tighten sanctions on North Korea.

Kishida’s office earlier condemned the latest launch by North Korea, which adds to a flurry that began this month and has included an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Seoul and Washington have warned Pyongyang could be preparing to carry out a nuclear test, which would be its seventh.

Biden held a three-way summit in Phnom Penh last week with allies Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to discuss the latest drama with North Korea.

The trio issued a joint statement warning that any new nuclear test would be met with a “strong and resolute” response, without giving further details.

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