China closes its Japanese affairs office

Beijing, Sep 22 (IANS) The Chinese government confirmed that it has shut down the Japanese division of the Asian Affairs Department in the foreign ministry, arguing that the closure is “normal”, the media reported on Tuesday.

“The Department of Asian Affairs of the foreign ministry recently underwent normal administrative adjustment,” Hong Lei, foreign affairs ministry spokesman said on Monday.

“I would like to point out that there is no change to China’s foreign policy toward Japan,” the Global Times quoted the spokesman as saying.

According to Japanese media reports, the Chinese foreign ministry had shut down its Japanese affairs office and integrated it with the division for South Korea, North Korea and Mongolia.

The new office will be named the Northeast Asia office and will be led by Yang Yu, the former head of the Japanese division, the reports added.

Other offices will also be integrated soon, according to their geographic location, to create Southeast Asia and Southwest Asia offices.

The adjustment has sparked speculation in Japan, with some speculating that Sino-Japanese ties will be affected.

The concerns come after Japan enacted a new security bill on September 19, which will allow its Self-Defence Forces to engage in battle with its allies, despite both international and domestic opposition.

“The Japanese media has over-interpreted the move of the Chinese foreign ministry. The adjustment is very normal and it is aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the diplomatic work,” Zhang Lili, director of the International Studies Department at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

“In fact, China-Japan diplomatic relations depends on the attitude and behaviour of Japan on issues like wartime history,” Zhang explained.

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