TOKYO— A group formed by Japanese economic and political leaders dedicated to maintaining good relations between Japan and China is planning to hold a reception in Tokyo next month to commemorate 45 years since the enactment of a bilateral treaty of peace and friendship, diplomatic sources said.
Although it is not clear whether Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will attend the ceremony slated for Oct 23, whether he and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchange messages of friendship to mark the occasion will likely be a focal point amid soured bilateral relations, according to the sources.
The anniversary nears as Tokyo and Beijing aim to stabilize ties, which have been further strained after the Japanese government gave the green light to start releasing treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear complex in northeastern Japan into the sea, which began late last month.
The reception will be organized by a private committee led by Masakazu Tokura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, the sources said. The federation is the country’s most powerful business lobby and is better known as Keidanren.
Former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and ruling Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai serve as the committee’s top advisers.
Fukuda’s father Takeo was prime minister when the bilateral Peace and Friendship Treaty was signed in 1978, while Nikai is known for having a pro-China stance.
Tokura, Fukuda and Nikai also attended a ceremony in Tokyo last September for the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, when celebratory messages from Kishida and Xi were read out.
Last November, the two leaders held talks in Bangkok on the fringes of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum gathering, marking the first face-to-face summit between the two countries since December 2019, when they agreed to seek a “constructive and stable” bilateral relationship.
Kishida and Xi may have another chance to hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of this year’s APEC summit slated for November in San Francisco.
China is considering holding its own ceremony to mark the 45th anniversary of the pact in Beijing, and the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo plans to organize a separate event in the Japanese capital on Thursday, the sources said.
After establishing diplomatic ties in a joint communique in 1972, Japan and China affirmed in the 1978 treaty that they would “settle all disputes by peaceful means” and “refrain from the use or threat of force.”