Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a roundtable interview with members of the foreign media in Tokyo
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a roundtable interview with members of the foreign media at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan April 20, 2023. Reuters

Japan will keep calling for China to act responsibly on the world stage, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday, a sign of Tokyo's deepening concern about stability in the Taiwan Strait following Beijing's recent military drills.

The comments from Kishida, after China conducted drills in the waters off Taiwan earlier this month, highlight Tokyo's growing alarm about the possibility of an attack on nearby Taiwan.

Japan would "continue to call on China to take the responsibility it should be taking as a major country on the world stage," Kishida said during a roundtable interview with members of the foreign media.

"Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is not just important for Japan, but the international community and the world more broadly as well," he said.

"We have been consistent with our position on Taiwan, that any issues should be resolved peacefully through dialogue. In any case... we will comply with our constitution, international laws, and our domestic laws including the relevant defence laws."

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations met in Japan this week and urged Beijing to "abstain from threats, coercion intimidation and the use of force".

Beijing, which views Taiwan as Chinese territory and has not renounced the use of force to take the democratically governed island, has rebuffed the G7 comments as gross interference in its internal affairs.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen says only the island's people can decide their future.


Kishida also stressed the importance of stability between China and the United States, illustrating Japan's sometimes complicated position as both Washington's closest ally in Asia and a major Chinese trading partner. Japan has joined the United States in putting export restrictions on chip-making tools but in doing so avoided mentioning China so as not to antagonise its neighbour.

Kishida also said Japan was calling on China to allow for the return of a Japanese executive detained there. Chinese authorities detained the executive from pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Inc in late March.

Likewise, he said he hoped Russia would "correct" its actions over the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

Kishida, who was targeted with an explosive device while campaigning over the weekend, said it was important to revisit security ahead of the G7 leaders summit in Hiroshima next month.

He said he hoped to see deeper discussions on same-sex marriage in Japan's parliament, although he stopped short of throwing his weight behind the issue, saying situations in individual countries also needed to be considered. ($1 = 134.5600 yen)