Diplomatic Bluebook 2022
Japan's Foreign Policy by Region
2 China / Mongolia, etc.
A Situation in China
(A) Domestic Affairs
The fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) held in March adopted the “14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035” and made the decision to change the election system in Hong Kong. On July 1, the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was held, and Xi Jinping, General Secretary of CPC Central Committee, declared that China had realized the first centenary goal of building a “moderately prosperous society” in all respects.
From November 8 to 12, the sixth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee was held, and the “Resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century” was adopted. Also, it was decided that the 20th CPC National Congress would be held in Beijing in the second half of 2022. This was the third time that the CPC has adopted a resolution on historical issues, following 1945 and 1981.
The international community continues to express high interest in China's human rights situation, including in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Continuing on from 2020, joint statements expressing grave concerns about the human rights situation in the XUAR were read out in June at the UN Human Rights Council and in October at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, and Japan participated in both statements as the only participating country from Asia (see the “Japan's Human Rights Diplomacy Initiatives” Special Feature in section 2.(2) on page 247.) Prime Minister Kishida raised the issues of the situation in Hong Kong and of the human rights situation in the XUAR during the Japan-China Summit telephone call in October 2021, and Foreign Minister Hayashi also expressed serious concerns to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during the Japan-China Foreign Ministers' telephone call in November.
The Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 were held from February to March 2022. In December 2021, prior to the opening of the Games, the U.S. announced that it would not send diplomatic or official delegations because of the human rights violations in China. Australia, the UK, Canada, and other nations expressed similar positions. Japanese Olympic Committee President Yamashita Yasuhiro and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee President Hashimoto Seiko attended the Olympic Games, and Japanese Paralympic Committee President Mori Kazuyuki attended the Paralympic Games. No governmental delegation was dispatched.
In Hong Kong, following the decision by the NPC to change the election system, on March 30, the NPC Standing Committee adopted the amendments to the Hong Kong Basic Law to change the election system for the Chief Executive and for the Legislative Council, and delayed until December 19 the 7th Legislative Council election that was scheduled for September under the amended Basic Law. The G7 Foreign Ministers' Statement in March,8 the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting Communiqué in May,9 the G7 Cornwall Summit Communiqué in June,10 and the Meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers' Statement in December11 each expressed grave concern about the change of the election system, and a joint statement read in June at the UN Human Rights Council expressed deep concerns about the situation in Hong Kong, and Japan also participated in the statement. With regard to the decision by the NPC and the NPC Standing Committee and with regard to the holding of Legislative Council elections, Japan released a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Secretary that called for the relevant elections in Hong Kong to be held in a fair manner that are open to candidates representing a wide range of political opinions, and expressed grave concerns.
- 8 G7 Foreign Ministers' Statement on Hong Kong electoral changes:https://www.mofa.go.jp/press/release/press1e_000180.html
- 9 G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting Communiqué:https://www.mofa.go.jp/fp/pc/page6e_000238.html
- 10 G7 Carbis Bay Summit Communiqué:https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/100200009.pdf
- 11 G7 Foreign Ministers' Statement on Hong Kong Legislative Council elections:https://www.mofa.go.jp/press/release/press3e_000293.html
The full year real GDP growth rate for 2021 was 8.1% year on year, achieving the target value for 2021 of 6% or more.
Real GDP in the first half of 2021 increased by 12.7% compared to the same period in the previous year and the economic recovery progressed significantly, a rebound from 2020, when the economy was affected by the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In the second half of 2021, however, economic growth slowed compared to the first half of 2021, as the economy faced downward pressure on growth due to rising prices for coal and other raw materials, semiconductor shortages, flooding in some regions, and the “zero-COVID” policy, as well as restrictions on electricity supplies and real estate market turmoil in various parts of China.
At the 13th NPC held in March, the major objectives and missions of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) were said to have been successfully achieved, and the “14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035” was adopted and subsequently announced. The 14th Five-Year Plan emphasized “independence” and “self-reliance” in science and technology, the implementation of a strategy to be a manufacturing powerhouse, the promotion of domestic and international “dual circulation” policies, and strengthening economic security. Economic growth rate targets were not presented, and it was instead stated that targets would be set according to the actual situation in each fiscal year. Long-term goals for the period through 2035 include raising GDP per capita to the level of “moderately developed countries” and substantial progress in “common prosperity for all.”
As for foreign economic policy, it was stated that China will continue to open up to the outside world. In September, China formally requested its accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) Agreement, and, in November, the 4th China International Import Expo was held. Additionally, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement entered into force among 10 signatory States, including Japan and China, on January 1, 2022.
The Central Economic Work Conference held in December indicated that 2021 was a milestone year in the history of the party and the nation in which the first centenary goal (building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2021, which is the 100th anniversary of the formation of the CPC) was realized, a new start was made toward the second centenary goal (building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects by 2049, which is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the nation), and that a good start had been made for the 14th Five-Year Plan. On the other hand, it was indicated that China is facing the “triple pressures” of shrinking demand, supply shocks and weakening expectations. The priority economic policy missions set for 2022 were (1) stable and effective macro policy, (2) micro policy that continuously stimulates the vitality of market participants (companies), (3) structural policy focused on facilitating the circulation of the national economy, (4) steady promotion of science and technology policy, (5) reforms and opening-up policy to invigorate the driving forces of development, (6) regional policy that strengthens balance and cooperation for development, and (7) social policy that protects the bottom line of civilian life. In addition to this, it was also pointed out that China's development faces many new theoretical and practical problems, and that accurate recognition and understanding are necessary. Strategic goals for achieving “common prosperity for all,” strengthening the management and supervision of capital, and environmental policies were also mentioned.
In order to manage the party and administration stably, it is necessary to ensure constant economic growth while handling all domestic and external issues, and it is worth paying attention to the trends of China's future economic and financial policies.
(C) Response to COVID-19
COVID-19 spread from China to the rest of the world, and in China, starting with “important instructions” by President Xi Jinping on January 20, 2020 and under the top-down leadership of the Central Committee of the CPC, strict infection control measures were taken, such as an approximately two-and-a-half-month lockdown of Wuhan City in Hubei Province, the source of COVID-19, and all cities in Hubei Province. During the initial spread of COVID-19, China fully implemented measures to “prevent domestic spread and prevent external spread (preventing domestic spread within China and preventing external spread to foreign countries),” but, with infections gradually being controlled, the policy was changed to “prevent external import and prevent internal rebounds (preventing the importation of infections from foreign countries and preventing a domestic rebound of infections),” and strict border control measures have been consistently implemented even after domestic community outbreaks of COVID-19 had subsided.
As part of its COVID-19 control measures, China vigorously promoted domestic vaccine development and production, and began the sequential vaccination of all citizens. At a press conference held by the health authorities on December 29, 2021, it was announced that the domestic vaccination rate had reached 89%.
Since the latter half of 2021, against the backdrop of the spread of the Delta variant, there were scattered cases of localized community outbreaks that spread to other regions, but the authorities have been able to control the spread of COVID-19 in a relatively short period of time by promptly identifying the infection sources and close contacts based on diagnostic reports from medical institutions and the travel history of the infected individuals, and by taking strict measures such as restricting movement in infected areas, mass PCR testing of residents, and mass quarantines. In a December press conference, the health authorities explained that China's best choice at this stage is focusing on promptly controlling community outbreaks and giving maximum consideration to the balance between socio-economic development and controlling infectious diseases.
(D) Foreign Policy
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, visits to foreign countries by Chinese dignitaries since Xi Jinping's visit to Myanmar in January 2020 have been limited to those made by Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, and by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Additionally, in the lead up to the opening of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 in February 2022, the diplomatic activities of dignitaries from various countries who visited China in 2021 were all carried out in regional cities other than Beijing. President Xi Jinping developed “head of state diplomacy” through telephone calls and teleconferences seeking stable relations with the U.S., Russia, and Europe, good-neighborliness and friendship with neighboring countries, and mutually beneficial cooperation with developing countries. In this context, China has been engaging in dialogue with the U.S. and European countries, which have various levels of tensions with China.
Since the end of 2019 and amidst the spread of COVID-19 from China to the rest of the world, China strongly promoted the development and production of domestically produced vaccines, and, in June 2021, advocated for the “Initiative for Belt and Road Partnership on COVID-19 Vaccines Cooperation” to promote the spread of Chinese vaccines in the international arena. China also promoted vaccine support through the COVAX Facility, and, at the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation hosted by China and held on August 5, President Xi Jinping announced that China would aim to provide 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the world in the year 2021 and had decided to provide 100 million US dollars to the COVAX Facility.
Following 2020, while severe confrontations between the U.S. and China were seen in a variety of fields, dialogue was maintained at the same time. In his first diplomatic speech since taking office, President Biden described China as “our most serious competitor,” and in the “Interim National Security Strategic Guidelines” that were released in March, he positioned China as “the only competitor to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system.” In its statement after the U.S.-China Summit telephone call in February, President Xi Jinping stated that “When China and the U.S. work together, they can accomplish a great deal for the good of both countries and the world at large; confrontation between the two countries, however, will definitely be disastrous for both countries and the world” and that “the U.S. side should respect China's core interests and act prudently.”
The U.S. continued to strengthen import/export restrictions and investment restrictions on China based on security and human rights concerns. In October, the Biden administration announced its trade policy on China, which included ensuring the implementation of the so-called “Phase One Agreement”12 signed by both countries under the Trump administration in January 2020, and correcting China's unfair trade practices. On human rights, in January, Secretary of State Pompeo announced that the Government of the U.S. had determined that the Chinese authorities had “committed genocide” against the Uyghurs and others. Furthermore, because of the human rights situation in the XUAR, the U.S. banned the import of cotton, tomatoes, and solar panel-related products, etc. from the XUAR. In December, the U.S. enacted the “Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act,” which establishes a rebuttable presumption that considers products including those produced in the XUAR to be prohibited from importation into the U.S. In addition, the U.S. announced an asset freeze and a ban on travel to the U.S. for senior Chinese government officials, citing violations of Hong Kong's autonomy and human rights abuses in the XUAR, and, in response to this, China took equivalent countermeasures based on the “Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law,” which was enacted in June.
On the other hand, dialogue channels, including between leaders, were maintained between the U.S. and China. Telephone calls between President Biden and President Xi Jinping were held in February and September, and a teleconference was held in November. During the three-and-a-half-hour teleconference, the two countries discussed the complex nature of U.S.-China relations, the importance of both countries managing competition responsibly, areas where both countries' interests align, and areas where both countries' interests, values, and perspectives diverge. After the meeting, the U.S. side announced that President Biden stated the need for “guardrails to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict and to keep lines of communication open.” In addition to exchanges between leaders, in Alaska in March, there was a meeting with National Security Advisor Sullivan and Secretary of State Blinken from the U.S. and with Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee Yang Jiechi and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi from China, and in July, Deputy Secretary of State Sherman visited China. In October, following a meeting by National Security Advisor Sullivan and Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee Yang Jiechi in Zurich, Switzerland, Secretary of State Blinken and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in Rome.
Additionally, in areas such as climate change, the Biden administration's Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry visited China in April, and met with Chinese Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua, where the U.S. and China issued a joint statement on responding to the climate crisis. Special Envoy Kerry visited China again in September to discuss with the Chinese side how to respond to climate change. On November 10, during the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, the U.S. and China, via the U.S.-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, announced that they are committed to addressing the climate crisis during the critical decade of the 2020s through accelerating their respective actions and through cooperation in multilateral processes, including in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Joint Declaration also mentioned strengthening cooperation in their efforts to reduce methane, one of the major greenhouse gases.
Establishing stable relations between the U.S. and China is a matter that concerns not only Japan, but also the international community as a whole. Japan will continue to monitor future developments.
- 12 China has promised to expand imports of U.S. products and to protect intellectual property rights. In addition, both the U.S. and China have agreed to postpone or reduce some additional tariff measures (although the majority of the tariff measures will remain unchanged).
(E) Military Affairs and Security
At the 19th CPC National Congress (2017), President Xi Jinping stated that China would transform its armed forces into a world-class military by the middle of this century. Additionally, the communique from the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, published in October 2020, set the new goal of “securing the realization of the centennial goal by 2027, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).”
China has been increasing its defense expenditures about 42-fold over the past 30 years, but the breakdown of the budget and the intention behind the increase have not been disclosed sufficiently. Under such circumstances, China, under its “Military-Civil Fusion,” is extensively and rapidly enhancing and modernizing its military power centered on its nuclear and missile capabilities and naval and air forces, is placing importance on ensuring its superiority in new domains of outer space, cyberspace, the electromagnetic spectrum, AI, and unmanned systems, and is promoting the modernization of its military through “mechanization, informatization and intelligentization.” China's opaque expansion of military capability, unilateral actions to change the status quo in the East China Sea and South China Sea, coupled with the expansion and increased vigor of its military activities, are strong security concerns in the region, including Japan, and in the international community. In 2021, the following movements such as navigation were confirmed: presumed Chinese-registered submarines navigating in the contiguous zone, joint patrols by Chinese and Russian naval vessels going around Japan, and Chinese naval observation ships south of Yakushima.
China has also been demonstrating a proactive stance in continuing to take an active part in United Nations PKOs as well as providing various kinds of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, etc.
In recent years, China has grown to have a great influence on the international community, not only politically and economically, but also militarily. To dispel any fears of China, there is a pressing need for China to increase transparency regarding its national defense policies and military power. While cooperating with other countries, Japan intends to further promote mutual trust in Japan-China relations through dialogue and people-to-people exchanges, including the Japan-China Security Dialogue, and through communication between the Japanese and Chinese defense authorities via the Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism. Japan also intends to strongly urge China to improve its transparency to dispel the concerns of the international community, including Japan's concerns.
B Japan-China Relations
(A) Bilateral Relations: General
There are various issues of concern between Japan and China as neighboring countries. The situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands, unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and in the South China Sea, and China's expanded and intensified military activities around Japan are of strong security concern to the region, including to Japan, and to the international community. In addition, China has become the world's second largest economy, and the impact of those actions is increasing on the international community in a variety of ways. In accordance with the rules of the international community, it is important for China to fulfill its responsibilities as a great power and to meet the expectations of the international community. At the same time, the relations with neighboring China is one of Japan's most important bilateral relations, and the two countries have close economic relations, as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Japan will firmly maintain and assert its position and strongly request that China take responsible actions, while at the same time cooperate on matters of common interest. It is important that both China and Japan make efforts to build such constructive and stable relations.
Continuing on from the previous year, in 2021, high-level communication, including between leaders, was continuously conducted, such as through telephone calls. Japan and China exchanged opinions on a wide range of topics, from bilateral relations to regional and international affairs, including on a variety of issues between the two countries.
On April 5, the fifth Japan-China Foreign Ministers' telephone call was held between Foreign Minister Motegi and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The two Ministers confirmed the importance of contributing to the regional and international community as responsible major powers, and expressed their expectations for advancing exchanges and dialogues in a wide variety of fields toward the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China in 2022. In addition, Foreign Minister Motegi conveyed his serious concerns regarding intrusions into Japan's territorial sea surrounding the Senkaku Islands by Chinese Coast Guard vessels, China's Coast Guard Law, the situation in the South China Sea, the situation surrounding Hong Kong, and the human rights situation in the XUAR, and strongly requested that China take concrete actions. Foreign Minister Motegi also strongly reiterated his call for the prompt removal of import restrictions on Japanese food products.
Prime Minister Kishida assumed the office of Prime Minister on October 4, and, on October 8, he held a Japan-China Summit telephone call. Prime Minister Kishida expressed his candid views on various concerns between the two countries and stated that the Japanese side will continue holding dialogues with the Chinese side, including on these issues, and the two leaders shared their intention to cooperate on common issues. Additionally, Prime Minister Kishida stated that the two countries must take the opportunity of 2022, which marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations, to establish constructive and stable relations based on the view above. President Xi Jinping expressed his consent to this view as well as his willingness to further develop Japan-China relations. Both leaders concurred to push forward the economic and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. Furthermore, Prime Minister Kishida raised the issue concerning North Korea, including the abductions issue, and the two leaders confirmed that Japan and China will continue to cooperate with each other.
Shortly after Foreign Minister Hayashi assumed the office of Foreign Minister in November, he held a Japan-China Foreign Ministers' telephone call with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on November 18. Touching upon the fact that 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations, Foreign Minister Hayashi expressed his intention to work together with State Councilor Wang Yi to realize the shared vision agreed upon during the Japan-China Summit telephone call held on October 8, including the establishment of constructive and stable relations, to which State Councilor Wang Yi expressed his consent. Additionally, Foreign Minister Hayashi expressed serious concerns regarding the situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands, as well as situations such as those in the East China Sea, the South China Sea, Hong Kong, and the XUAR, and also stated the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Furthermore, Foreign Minister Hayashi strongly called for the prompt removal of import restrictions on Japanese food products. Foreign Minister Hayashi also stated his intention to hold dialogues and consultations, including on the aforementioned issues. Both Ministers affirmed that they will promote dialogue and practical cooperation, in an appropriate manner, in relation to Japan-China economic relations, and agreed to take the opportunity of 2022, the 50th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China relations, to push forward the economic and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. The two Ministers exchanged views on international affairs, including the issue of climate change and North Korea. Regarding the response to North Korea, Foreign Minister Hayashi requested understanding and support toward the early resolution of the abductions issue and the two Ministers confirmed that they will continue to coordinate closely.
In addition to the above, exchanges of views between the Japanese and Chinese diplomatic authorities continued even amidst COVID-19, including the Japan-China International Development Cooperation Policy Consultation in June, the teleconference between Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director-General Funakoshi and Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Liu Jinsong in August, and the Japan-China Economic Partnership Consultation (Vice-Ministerial meeting) in November. In February and December, the Japan-China High-Level Consultation on Maritime Affairs was held to candidly exchange views on a variety of issues related to the East China Sea and other areas.
Additionally, Japan-China consultations between non-diplomatic authorities also continued, such as the Japan-China Defense Ministers' Video Teleconference between Defense Minister Kishi and State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on December 27.
On February 21, 2022, a member of the Japanese Embassy in China was temporarily detained by the Chinese authorities against the person's will in Beijing. This case is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and is inadmissible and completely unacceptable, and, as such, Japan is lodging a severe protest with China, and strongly requesting an apology and measures to prevent a recurrence.
(B) Japan-China Economic Relations
Economic relations between Japan and China, including trade and investment, are very close. The global spread of COVID-19 has had a major impact on Japan-China economic relations since 2020, and travel between Japan and China continues to be significantly restricted. However, even under such circumstances, economic activities between Japan and China in 2021 showed a greater recovery than in the previous year, and the total trade between Japan and China (excluding Hong Kong) amounted to about 350.0 billion US dollars in 2021 (14.8% increase year on year), and China has been the largest trading partner for Japan for 15 consecutive years. Moreover, according to Chinese statistics, Japan's direct investment in China was about 3.374 billion US dollars (9.3% decrease year on year, as estimated from officially published information on investment) in 2020. Figures for 2021 have yet to be announced as of March 2022. Japan ranks third in terms of the amount of direct investment to China (Singapore ranks first, the ROK second, the Netherlands fourth, and the U.S. fifth).
Economic dialogue between Japan and China continued, even as visits, including at high levels, were restricted due to the spread of COVID-19. At the Japan-China Summit telephone call held in October, both leaders concurred to push forward economic and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. At the Japan-China Foreign Ministers' telephone call held in November, both Ministers affirmed that they will promote dialogue and practical cooperation, in an appropriate manner, in relation to Japan-China economic relations. The 15th Japan-China Economic Partnership Consultation (Vice-Ministerial meeting) was held in November via teleconference, following on from the previous year, and the two sides had wide-ranging exchanges of views on issues and future cooperation between Japan and China, such as the current state of both countries' economies, the business environment, agricultural trade, intellectual property, the environment and energy saving, and medicine and healthcare, as well as on issues and cooperation in the international arena, including climate change, development finance and debt issues, and the WTO. Japan once again brought up the issue of legitimate business interests of Japanese companies and of ensuring fair and competitive conditions, and strongly called for the prompt removal of import restrictions on Japanese food products. Additionally, both Japan and China confirmed that, in relation to Japan-China economic relations, they will continue to promote dialogue and practical cooperation, in an appropriate manner, based on these discussions, and agreed to support economic and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries on the occasion of the 50th anniversary in 2022 of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China.
Additionally, as a private-sector level economic exchange, the Seventh Japan-China Business Leader and Former High-Level Government Official Dialogue (Japan-China CEO Summit) was held online in December.
(C) Promotion of Mutual Understanding Between Japanese and Chinese People
(Current situation of people-to-people exchanges between Japan and China)
A “Business Track (measures with short-term business travelers in mind)” and “Residence Track (measures to enable cross-border travel by long-term residents)” with China began to operate in phases from November 30, 2020, but on January 14, 2021, the Government of Japan suspended operations with all eligible countries and regions, and, since then, new entries by foreign nationals have not been permitted under either track. The Government of Japan applied strengthened border measures against new COVID-19 variants from November 30, 2021, but, although these measures were subsequently partially relaxed on March 1, 2022, mutual travel has not yet fully resumed.
The number of visitors to Japan from China continued to sharply fall from 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, to approximately 42,000 in 2021 (as of the end of March 2022, provisional value from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)), and is still at a low level, down 99.6% from 2019 (approximately 9.59 million, finalized value for 2019), when a record high was marked.
(Japan-China youth exchanges, etc.)
In 2021, as in 2020, even though face-to-face exchange projects could not be implemented due to cross-border travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, youth exchanges between Japan and China continued through these efforts to explore new ways of conducting youth exchanges. This was achieved via online exchanges such as the “JENESYS” friendship ties programs, for the purpose of promoting mutual understanding and understanding of Japan between students and researchers from both countries.
(D) Specific Pending Issues
(Situation Surrounding the East China Sea)
In the East China Sea, China Coast Guard vessels continue to intrude into the Japanese territorial sea around the Senkaku Islands. The Chinese military has also been rapidly expanding and increasing its activities in quality and quantity at sea and in the airspace over the East China Sea.
The Senkaku Islands are indisputably an inherent territory of Japan in light of historical facts and based upon international law. Indeed, the Senkaku Islands are under the valid control of Japan. Thus, there exists no issue of territorial sovereignty to be resolved concerning the Senkaku Islands. From 1895, when the Senkaku Islands were incorporated into Japanese territory by lawful means under international law, until the 1970s, when the islands became the focus of attention after it was suggested that there might be oil reserves in the East China Sea, China had not raised any objections to Japan's sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands. Moreover, China has never explained why it had not expressed objections until then. Subsequently, in 2008, Chinese government vessels first intruded into Japanese territorial sea surrounding the Senkaku Islands.13
During 2021, 34 incidents were recorded in which China Coast Guard vessels intruded into the Japanese territorial sea surrounding the Senkaku Islands (the numbers were 24 in 2020 and 32 in 2019). Since May 2020, China Coast Guard vessels have intruded into the Japanese territorial sea of the Senkaku Islands, there have been incidents in which the China Coast Guard vessels attempted to approach Japanese fishing boats, and these incidents have continued to occur. In October 2020, the intrusion into Japan's territorial sea lasted for more than 57 hours, which is the longest amount of time to date. The number of days in 2021 in which Chinese Coast Guard vessels navigated in the contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands was 332 days, and the situation is becoming more severe, as from February to July 2021 the number of days in which Chinese Coast Guard vessels consecutively navigated in the contiguous zone surrounding the Senkaku Islands reaching a record high of 157 days. The activities of the China Coast Guard vessels, which make their own assertions in Japan's territorial sea around the Senkaku Islands, are in violation of international law to begin with, and, in response to such unilateral attempts by China to change the status quo, the Government of Japan has repeatedly lodged strong protests and requested the withdrawal of Chinese vessels through diplomatic routes. With the determination to defend Japan's territory as well as territorial sea and airspace, Japan will continue to take a calm and resolute approach to the situation.
Additionally, in June 2020, the “Law of the People's Republic of China on the People's Armed Police Force,” which regulates the authority and duties of the People's Armed Police Force, was amended and “protection of interests at sea and law enforcement” was stipulated as a duty of the People's Armed Police Force. The Government of China is proceeding with the development of legal systems for securing maritime rights and protecting interests, such as by enacting, in February 2021, the “Coast Guard Law of the People's Republic of China,” which stipulated enforcement of the Maritime Rights and Interests Protection Act as a duty of the China Coast Guard. In particular, the China Coast Guard Law contains provisions that have problems from the viewpoint of consistency with international law, such as ambiguities in the maritime areas where it can be applied and in the authority to use weapons. Japan believes that the China Coast Guard Law should not undermine the legitimate interests of relevant countries, including Japan, and is conveying these serious concerns to China. Japan will continue to pay close attention to trends related to legislation in China.
Moreover, Chinese naval vessels and aircraft have also been accelerating their activities in the sea and airspace around Japan. In 2021, Japan confirmed movements such as navigation of presumed Chinese submarines in the eastern contiguous zone around Amami Oshima, joint maritime cruises by Chinese and Russian naval vessels around Japan, joint flights by China and Russia from the East China Sea to the Sea of Japan, and navigation in Japan's territorial sea by Chinese naval observation ships south of Yakushima. Furthermore, aircraft activities also continue to be active, and the number of times the Air Self-Defense Force had to scramble jets in response to Chinese military aircraft since autumn 2012 has remained high. In response to these recent activities by the Chinese military, Japan has been raising the issues through diplomatic routes.
In addition, China has been continuing its unilateral activities to develop natural resources while the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf between Japan and China in the East China Sea remain pending delimitation. The Government of Japan has confirmed 12 new structures built between June 2013 and May 2016, making it a total of 16 structures including those confirmed before then, on the Chinese side of the geographical equidistance line. Such unilateral development activities are extremely regrettable, and every time such moves by China are detected, Japan has strongly requested China to cease its unilateral development and to immediately resume negotiations on the implementation of the “2008 Agreement” regarding the cooperation between Japan and China on the development of natural resources in the East China Sea. At the summit meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Xi Jinping in June 2019, the two leaders shared the view of promoting and implementing the “2008 Agreement” regarding resource development in order to achieve the goal of making the East China Sea a “Sea of Peace, Cooperation and Friendship.”
In recent years numerous activities by China to carry out surveys in the waters around Japan, including the East China Sea, without obtaining Japan's approval, have also continued, and each time this happens Japan raises objections with the Chinese side through diplomatic routes.
In order to deal with these concerns appropriately, both Japan and China have been promoting dialogue and exchanges between the authorities concerned. The Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism was concluded during the visit to Japan by Premier Li Keqiang in May 2018, and in June 2018 the defense authorities of Japan and China began operation of the Mechanism, which is highly significant for promoting mutual understanding between both countries and avoiding and preventing accidental collisions. Japan and China intend to continue moving forward with their coordination toward the early establishment of a “hotline between the defense authorities of Japan and China,” which is in the final stages of coordination. Furthermore, the Japan-China Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) Agreement was signed during Prime Minister Abe's visit to China in October 2018, which creates a legal framework regarding Japan-China cooperation for the maritime search and rescue field, and is expected to enable smoother and more efficient search and rescue activities.
As Japan has stated on repeated occasions, including at Japan-China Summit Meetings, true improvement in Japan-China relations cannot be achieved without stability in the East China Sea. It is highly meaningful from the perspective of building trust and bolstering cooperation for diplomats from both countries to directly and frankly exchange opinions, such as at the Japan-China High-Level Consultation on Maritime Affairs or other discussions between related authorities of both countries. The Government of Japan will assert Japan's position on individual issues through steady dialogue and continued bolstering of communication.
- 13 Ministry of Foreign Affairs website detailing the position of the Government of Japan on the Senkaku Islands:https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/asia-paci/senkaku/index.html
Numerous illegal operations by Chinese fishing vessels have been conducted in the waters around the Yamato Bank in the Sea of Japan. Japan has expressed concerns and has strongly and repeatedly urged China to take effective steps, including strengthening measures such as providing guidance to those engaged in fishing. At the Japan-China Foreign Ministers' telephone call in April, Foreign Minister Motegi also made strong requests to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
(Japanese Food Import Restrictions Issue)
Regarding the import restrictions placed on food and agricultural products from Japan by the Government of China, in addition to continuing discussions on the “Japan-China Agricultural and Fishery Products Trade Cooperation Mechanism,” whose launch was agreed to between the Japanese and Chinese Foreign Ministers in November 2020, Japan has taken every opportunity to strongly urge China to remove the restrictions as soon as possible, including at the April 2021 Japan-China Foreign Ministers' telephone call between Foreign Minister Motegi and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and at the November 2021 Japan-China Foreign Ministers' telephone call between Foreign Minister Hayashi and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
(Cases of Detainment of Japanese Nationals)
In regard to cases of detainment of Japanese nationals, the Government of Japan has urged early release of Japanese detainees on various occasions between Japan and China, including summit and Foreign Ministers' meetings, and, so far, five Japanese nationals have been released before prosecution and three Japanese nationals have returned to Japan after serving their sentences. In December, one Japanese national was newly detained by Chinese authorities in Shanghai. The Government of Japan has been strongly requesting, at all levels and at every occasion, that the Government of China provide early releases, transparency in law enforcement and judicial processes, and proper safeguards for the rights of Japanese nationals, as well as ensuring impartial justice and humane treatment. Additionally, from the perspective of protecting Japanese nationals, the Government of Japan is providing as much support as possible, including consular visits and contact with family members.
(Abandoned Chemical Weapons Issue)
The Government of Japan, in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), has been working on the destruction of chemical weapons abandoned by Japan in China. In 2021, amidst the impacts of COVID-19, Japan carried out projects such as the destruction of chemical weapons in Haerbaling District in Dunhua, Jilin Province and the transport of abandoned chemical weapons shells in various parts of China (as of December, approximately 58,000 abandoned chemical weapons have been destroyed).
A Domestic Affairs and Economy
In May, community outbreaks of COVID-19 temporarily spread in Taiwan, and public criticism of the Tsai Ing-wen administration intensified against the background of vaccine shortage problems. However, in addition to vaccine support from Japan, the U.S and other countries since June, Taiwan itself established a system to secure sufficient vaccines, and, as a result of successful measures such as strict border measures and restrictions on gatherings and eating out, since November, the number of people infected with COVID-19 was suppressed to essentially zero.
In September, the opposition Kuomintang held a party chairmanship election, in which incumbent Chiang Chi-chen was defeated and Eric Chu Li-luan became the new party Chairman. In December, a public referendum was held on four proposals, including a “ban on the importation of pork that uses the ractopamine growth-promoting agent,” with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party calling for the rejection of all proposals and the opposition Kuomintang calling for the approval of all proposals. Each proposal had more votes against than for, and all four proposals were rejected.
Taiwan's economy in 2021 continued to be relatively strong, particularly in the first half of the year against a backdrop of high overseas demand for electronics products and telecommunications, etc., and annual real GDP growth was forecast at plus 5.88%. In September, Taiwan formally requested its accession to the CPTPP Agreement.
B Cross-strait Relations and External Relations
On October 9, at the Meeting Marking the 110th Anniversary of the Revolution of 1911, President Xi Jinping, while announcing a policy of aiming for peaceful cross-straits reunification, stressed that China's willingness and ability to defend its sovereignty and territory should not be underestimated and that external interference would not be tolerated. On the other hand, on October 10, President Tsai Ing-wen emphasized that she would do her utmost to “maintain the status quo” of cross-strait relations, including self-defense efforts.
In recent years, China has rapidly strengthened its military capabilities, and the overall military balance between China and Taiwan has tilted in favor of China. China has been stepping up its military activities around Taiwan. For example, according to an announcement by the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense, during the four-day period from October 1 to 4, a total of 149 Chinese military aircraft entered the air defense identification zone set by Taiwan. In particular, the total of 56 aircraft on October 4 was the highest number since Taiwanese authorities began continuously announcing trends in Chinese military aircraft in September 2020.
Amidst these circumstances and starting with the mention of Taiwan at the Japan-U.S. “2+2” in March 2021, there has been consensus on the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and on encouraging the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, including at the 2021 Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting (April), the Meeting of G7 Foreign and Development Ministers (May), the 27th Japan-EU Summit (May), the Japan-Australia “2+2” (June), and the G7 Summit (June), as well as at the 2022 Japan-Australia Leaders Video Teleconference Meeting (January), the Japan-U.S. “2+2” (January), the Japan-France “2+2” (January), the Japan-U.S. Summit Video Teleconference Meeting (January), and in the Joint Statement on the U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea Trilateral Ministerial Meeting (February). In October, the European Parliament adopted a report on EU-Taiwan political relations and cooperation, and there have been moves to strengthen relations between Europe and Taiwan, such as Taiwanese Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu and a Taiwan trade and investment delegation visiting Europe, including the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic, and a European Parliament delegation visiting Taiwan as an official delegation for the first time in November.
Meanwhile, in November, the Government of China announced that it would impose sanctions, such as a ban on entry into China, on Taiwan's Premier of the Executive Yuan, President of the Legislative Yuan, and Foreign Minister as “stubbornly pro-Taiwan independence” elements. When the Taiwanese Representative Office opened in Lithuania in November, China downgraded its diplomatic relations with Lithuania to the level of Chargé d'Affaires. In December, Nicaragua announced that it had severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and a delegation visiting China signed a joint communiqué on the restoration of diplomatic relations with China. As a result, there are a total of 14 countries who have diplomatic relations with Taiwan (eight countries have severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan since the inauguration of the Tsai administration in 2016).
Taiwan was an observer at the World Health Organization (WHO) General Assembly from 2009 to 2016, but has not been able to participate since 2017. Japan has consistently asserted that there should be no geographical gap in responding to international health issues. Particularly for infectious diseases such as COVID-19 that have an enormous impact on the entire world, Japan considers it important that information and knowledge are widely shared in a free, transparent, and prompt manner from countries and regions around the world, including from regions such as Taiwan that have taken effective measures against COVID-19 and achieved results. From this perspective, Japan has consistently supported Taiwan's participation as an observer to the WHO General Assembly.
C Japan-Taiwan Relations
For Japan, Taiwan is an extremely crucial partner and an important friend, with which it shares fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law, and enjoys close economic relations and people-to-people exchanges. The relations between Japan and Taiwan are maintained on the basis of working relations at the non-governmental level in accordance with the 1972 Joint Communiqué between Japan and China. The sentiments of Japanese and Taiwanese citizens toward each other are generally favorable. In a survey conducted in February 2019 by the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, 70% of Taiwanese respondents said they “felt close to Japan” or “relatively felt close to Japan,” and, according to a survey by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan (conducted in November 2021), 75% of Japanese people responded that they “felt close to Taiwan” or “relatively felt close to Taiwan.”
In June, Japan, as its first overseas vaccine donations, provided 1.24 million vaccine doses to Taiwan (a cumulative total of 4.2 million doses had been provided by September), and from the Taiwanese side, President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President Lai Ching-te, and Premier of the Executive Yuan Su Tseng-chang repeatedly expressed their gratitude to Japan (see the boxed column in the Opening Special Feature on page 8). In September 2021, Taiwan donated medical equipment, such as pulse oximeters and oxygen concentrators, to Japan.
Taiwan imposed import restrictions on Japanese food products after the Great East Japan Earthquake, but on February 21, 2022, it was announced that the import restrictions on agricultural and marine products and foods produced and processed in Fukushima, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, and Chiba prefectures would be eased. Japan will continue to persistently urge Taiwan to lift the remaining import restrictions as soon as possible based on scientific evidence.
A Domestic Affairs
In January, the Khurelsukh Cabinet resigned to take responsibility for inadequacies by authorities on site in dealing with COVID-19. In response to this, Chief Cabinet Secretary L. Oyun-Erdene was appointed as the new Prime Minister, and a new Cabinet was inaugurated. Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene began his administration announcing that he would basically continue and follow the path laid out by the previous administration.
In June, the first presidential election (direct election) after the 2020 constitutional amendment was held, and former Prime Minister U. Khurelsukh, who was nominated by the ruling Mongolian People's Party, won an overwhelming victory with nearly 70% of the vote, and was inaugurated as President (six-year term, no re-election). This was the first time in 12 years that a President was elected from the Mongolian People's Party.
As for COVID-19, the number of new cases per day rapidly increased since March, reaching a record high of 3,963 people in September, but has gradually been declining since then. Continuing on from the previous administration, the Oyun-Erdene Cabinet implemented large-scale emergency economic measures. Vaccinations for citizens began in February, and, as of December, 92% of the total population had completed their second round of vaccinations, with booster vaccinations also starting. When the Government of Mongolia procured the Pfizer vaccine in May, the Government of Japan supported the procurement and supply of 2.35 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine through UNICEF.
Meanwhile, due to a gradual recovery in economic activity amidst COVID-19 and an increase in exports of coal and copper, etc., the government's economic statistics for 2021 recorded a 22.1% increase year on year in exports and a 29.2% increase year on year in imports. In the December statistics, tax revenues decreased by 8.5% and industrial production increased by 44.6%.
B Japan-Mongolia Relations
Even amidst the continuing travel restrictions between Japan and Mongolia due to COVID-19, 2021 was a year of steady dialogues and cooperation for Japan and Mongolia to strengthen their “Strategic Partnership” as important regional partners that share universal values.
In July, Chinggis Khaan International Airport was opened. The airport was constructed through yen loans from the Government of Japan and is operated by an airport operating company that was established by a coalition of Japanese companies (Mitsubishi Corporation, Narita International Airport Corporation, Japan Airport Terminal Co., Ltd., and JALUX Inc.) and a Mongolian state-owned enterprise. The opening ceremony was attended by President U. Khurelsukh, Minister of Road and Transport Development L. Haltar, and Minister for Foreign Affairs B. Battsetseg, and others, with a congratulatory message from Prime Minister Suga. The airport is a new symbol of cooperation between Japan and Mongolia.
Additionally, in July, Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene visited Japan in his first trip overseas since assuming office, and a summit meeting with Prime Minister Suga was held. The two leaders shared the idea to designate 2022, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Mongolia, as a “Year for Promotion of Youth Exchange” and to deepen cooperation in a variety of fields toward the 50th anniversary. Additionally, the two leaders shared the view to further promote cooperation toward the realization of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” and cooperation and partnership in a variety of regional and international arenas. During his visit to Japan, Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene attended the opening ceremony of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
In December, a Foreign Ministers' Video Teleconference Meeting was held between Foreign Minister Hayashi and Minister for Foreign Affairs B. Battsetseg. In the teleconference meeting, the two Ministers shared the view to make 2022, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Mongolia, a year for overcoming COVID-19 and restoring citizen exchanges, and to build the foundation and ties for the next 50 years, looking back on the past 50 years.