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Japanese envoy says Tokyo “fights every day” with China

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Japan’s relations with China were no better than notoriously strained Sino-Australian relations, the Japanese ambassador to Australia said on Wednesday.

Japan’s ties with China are often cited as an example for Australia of how productive relations can be maintained with Beijing despite national differences. But Ambassador Shingo Yamagami said he had encountered a common misconception in Australia about the state of Japan’s relations with China since taking office in December last year.

“The summary of this argument is that Japan does much better than Australia when it comes to dealing with Japan’s neighbor, China,” Yamagami told the National Press Club of Australia.

“My simple answer is: no way. I am afraid I do not subscribe to such an argument. Why? Because every day Japan is in trouble, ”added Yamagami.

Japan, Australia and other countries must join forces to meet the challenges caused by China’s rise to power, he said.

“Don’t worry. You are doing a great job. We are in the same boat and we have to work together,” Yamagami said.

China has become increasingly hostile to Australia since early last year, when the Australian government called for an independent investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Relations between China and Australia have deteriorated in recent years, with Australia blocking Chinese technology and investment in key infrastructure, and China using tariffs and other measures to reduce imports from China. Australia.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, president of the Asia Society, a New York-based think tank, expert on Chinese history and former Australian diplomat in Beijing, is among Australian foreign policy critics who applaud the Japanese example of dealing with China. .

Rudd urged Beijing and Canberra to “put the megaphone away” in their bilateral relations. Japan, which like Australia is a close ally of the United States, has managed its relationship with China without retaliatory trade sanctions in recent years with deeds rather than words, Rudd said.

President Joe Biden’s administration and Japan recently said they would back Australia against what they describe as China’s economic coercion campaign through informal trade sanctions.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga argues that trade should never be used as a tool to exert political pressure, Yamagami said.

“I applaud the way Australia has faced enormous pressures in a consistent, principled and resilient manner,” he said.

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