09 August 2017

News Story: Japan's Kono asks China to learn 'how to behave as big power'

MANILA (Kyodo) -- Japan's new Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Monday brushed aside a provocative remark by his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during their first talks since he assumed his post last week, saying he wants Beijing to "learn how to behave as a big power."

At the bilateral meeting in Manila, Wang told Kono, "Frankly speaking, we were disappointed to hear your comments" over issues surrounding the South China Sea in the East Asia Summit foreign ministers' meeting that was held earlier in the day.

Kono is seen as a pro-China politician. His father Yohei Kono, a former foreign minister, is a regular visitor to China who has not tried to justify Japan's past colonial rule in Asian nations and not sought the amendment of its postwar pacifist Constitution.

The outset of their talks was open to the media.

"We felt that you were forced to fulfill a mission that the United States had given you," Wang said, referring to Kono's earlier remarks regarding China's military buildup in the contested waters of the South China Sea.

The Japanese minister had suggested he would remind Beijing of the importance of the rule of law in dealing with disputes in the waters, one of the world's vital shipping routes, where several Southeast Asia countries have overlapping territorial claims with China.

Kono told reporters Sunday he would call for demilitarization in the South China Sea.

Kono, who is acquainted with Wang, a former ambassador to Japan, said at the meeting, "I became foreign minister in a very difficult era when we are facing North Korean issues and various maritime issues."

"I would like to frankly exchange views" with China, he told Wang.

Read the full story at The Mainichi