Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday that talks with China’s leader are key to regional and international peace and stability amid growing tensions over territorial disputes and Beijing’s increased military activity around Japan. “It is important to maintain stable and constructive relations” between Japan and China, Kishida said at a party leaders’ debate in Tokyo ahead of July 10 parliamentary elections. Asked about a possible summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping when the two countries mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations in September, Kishida said nothing has been decided, but “Dialogue is important. I hope to think in concrete terms.” Japan sees China’s increasingly assertive military activity in the East and South China Seas as a threat to some of the world’s busiest sea lanes. What does Japan think about China? Abe may have the words for PM Kishida Tokyo is especially concerned about Chinese military and coastguard activity in the East China Sea near a group of disputed islands known in Japan as the Senkakus but in China as the Diaoyus. Japan’s government said Tuesday it protested to Beijing after finding that China has set up a new oil drilling rig in a contested area of the East China Sea. Dialogue with South Korea, despite troubled relations stemming from Japan’s actions during World War II, is also important considering the worsening security environment in the region, Kishida said. Asked about a possible meeting with new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol when both leaders are invited to the June 29-30 Nato summit in Madrid, Kishida said nothing has been decided, “but dialogue is important.” Kishida said stable relations between the two sides depend on efforts by Seoul to settle their disputes, including one over South Korean court decisions awarding compensation to wartime Korean workers in Japanese factories. Kishida also said he will prioritise policies to ease surging energy and food prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine . Official campaigning for the election for about half of parliament’s upper house, the less powerful of its two chambers, begins on Wednesday. More than 500 candidates are expected. Will history keep Korea-Japan information-sharing deal from moving forward? Kishida’s governing Liberal Democratic Party has included a sharp increase in military capability and spending in its campaign platform. “I will protect the people’s lives and livelihoods,” said Kishida, who with popular support ratings of around 60 per cent is expected to lead his party to victory. That could allow him to stay in power uninterrupted by another election for up to three years. Kishida has largely maintained his popularity by avoiding divisive policies while being helped by the slowing of Covid-19 infections and growing concerns about security issues following Russia’s Ukraine invasion, experts say.