The leader of the junior partner in Japan's ruling coalition called Wednesday while visiting Beijing for the end of China's ban on Japanese seafood imports imposed over the release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea.

Komeito party chief Natsuo Yamaguchi met with Cai Qi, the fifth-ranking Communist Party leader, in the Chinese capital and handed him a personal letter from Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed to President Xi Jinping.


During a summit held last week in San Francisco, Kishida and Xi agreed to hold expert consultations on the water discharge and build "mutually beneficial" bilateral relations based on common strategic interests.

Japan's Komeito party chief Natsuo Yamaguchi (L) shakes hands with Cai Qi, China's fifth-ranking Communist Party leader, in Bejing on Nov. 22, 2023. (Kyodo)

Yamaguchi, who is visiting China for the first time since August 2019, told reporters after the meeting that he explained to Cai about the Fukushima plant's wastewater, emphasizing it undergoes science-based and transparent monitoring and seeking Beijing's understanding.

"I have conveyed (to the Chinese side) the Japanese public's concern over the import ban and called for exchanges of views to settle the matter," Yamaguchi said. He added that Cai stressed the importance of ensuring food safety and protecting the health of the Chinese people.

Yamaguchi originally intended to visit China in August but postponed the trip due to strained bilateral ties over the wastewater discharge that began late that month.

The party leader also said he called on China, which currently presides over the U.N. Security Council, to address North Korea's missile development, a day after it launched a military reconnaissance satellite using banned ballistic missile technology.

He sought the release of Japanese nationals detained in China for alleged espionage, saying a lack of transparency surrounding their detentions has deterred bilateral personnel exchanges.

Yamaguchi agreed with Cai on the restart of regular dialogue between the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito coalition and the Communist Party last held in 2018.

The Komeito chief also proposed China lease giant pandas to a Sendai zoo in northeastern Japan, saying it will encourage people affected by the 2011 devastating earthquake and tsunami and "play an important role in softening public sentiment" toward China.

He later held talks with Liu Jianchao, head of the Communist Party's International Liaison Department. Yamaguchi will stay in China until Thursday.

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