China called for independent monitoring of the ongoing discharge of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea during a meeting between its top diplomat and the chief of the junior partner in Japan's ruling coalition on Thursday in Beijing.

Komeito party head Natsuo Yamaguchi introduced Wang Yi's remarks to reporters following their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in the capital. The two Asian neighbors have been at loggerheads over the Fukushima plant water release that began in late August and prompted China to ban seafood imports from Japan.

Komeito party head Natsuo Yamaguchi (L) shakes hands with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 23, 2023. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

At the outset of the talks, Wang hailed a summit held last week in San Francisco between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, saying it indicated a direction toward "resolving a deadlock" in frayed bilateral ties and "realizing the healthy and stable development" of the relationship.

During the summit, held for the first time in a year, the two leaders agreed to hold expert consultations on the water discharge and build "mutually beneficial" bilateral relations based on common strategic interests.

Wang noted that this year is important as it marks the 45th anniversary of the signing of the bilateral peace and friendship treaty.

Offering condolences over the death earlier this month of Daisaku Ikeda, the Komeito founder and longtime leader of the lay Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai, Wang hoped the party, "with a China-friendly tradition," will help put bilateral ties back on the right track.

Komeito party head Natsuo Yamaguchi (far L) and top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi (far R) hold talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 23, 2023. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

Yamaguchi, now on a two-day visit to China, met with Cai Qi, the fifth-ranking Communist Party leader, on Wednesday. He said he asked both Cai and Wang about lifting the seafood import ban.

The Komeito leader originally intended to visit China in August but postponed the trip due to strained bilateral ties over the wastewater discharge. He last traveled to the neighboring country in August 2019.

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