When the Japanese government announced yesterday that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan as a ‘state guest’ had been postponed, I was overwhelmed with a rush of emotions. People started to talk about this issue last summer, and after my resignation from the Minister of the State in September I was determined to publicly express my opinion that I oppose treating China’s President as Japan’s ‘state guest’. Since then, I have appealed to a lot of people at various meetings such as the Research Commission on Foreign Affairs and the General Council in the LDP, my supporters’ gatherings, etc., to support my opinion. Last December, I visited China and met with Mr. Chen Yuan, President of the China Association for International Friendly Contact (CAIFC), and in January this year, I had a meeting with H.E. Mr. Kong Xuanyou, Chinese Ambassador to Japan. My appeal is always simple. We, the Japanese people, welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan but we want the Chinese government to immediately stop unlawful actions. The Chinese Coast Guard vessels have frequently entered the contiguous zone and intruded into territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands owned by Japan in recent years, and some Japanese people have been detained in China on suspicion of spying. The Chinese government should stop all these political actions which clearly infringe Japan’s sovereignty. The people of Japan will never allow China to take such unlawful actions.
Negotiations between the two countries concerning President Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan as a ‘state guest’ has been hindered by the spread of the new coronavirus since early January this year. All countries in the world are now trying to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus by halting the movement of people inside the countries and between the countries, and by minimizing contact between people. The negotiations continued between the two countries under such circumstances, and consequently, on March 5, the visit was decided to be postponed.
The postponement of the visit is better than suspension. We do welcome the President’s visit, but in case of inviting the President to Japan as a ‘state guest’, the argument should focus on whether the Chinese government will stop infringing Japan’s sovereignty, not whether the spread of the coronavirus will end. It should not be misunderstood.
Since it is a postponement and not a suspension, I will continue to protest against the Chinese government’s infringement of Japan’s sovereignty, and will appeal to as many people as possible to support my view.
A news reporter came to my office and said, “Your appeal has reached the Chinese government, Mr. Harada. Good for you.” I replied, “Our fight has just started.”