President Hu's Japan trip 'delayed to May'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 March, 2008, 12:00am

President Hu Jintao's visit to Japan has been postponed to early May because of the tight schedules of Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and the royal family, Japanese media has reported.

NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, reported yesterday that the two governments were considering a rescheduling of the crucial visit after considering the timetables of Mr Hu and the royal family, and Mr Fukuda's preparations for visits to Russia and Germany.

The report added that the visit would take place after Japanese public holidays on May 3-5.

In Beijing, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi denied the visit had been postponed, adding that the schedule was still being finalised.

The two governments have been arguing over the origin of toxins found in dumplings imported from the mainland that sickened at least 10 Japanese people. The dumplings were recalled.

Japanese authorities have said the chances that the insecticide was added in Japan were extremely low. Chinese police, following their investigation, said it was sabotage done outside the mainland.

On Friday, Japanese police said that recent tests on 39 unopened packs of dumplings revealed traces of methamidophos, an insecticide, on one bag and in the dumplings inside. A small hole was also found on the pack's surface.

Wei Chuanzhong, deputy director of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, has stressed that the dumpling incident is not a food-safety issue and did not involve pesticide-contaminated production processes.

Mainland officials have said the row would not mar the top-level meeting between the leaders.

After a long period of strained ties, former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe made an ice-breaking trip to the mainland in October 2006, followed by a visit by Premier Wen Jiabao to Japan last year in April. Mr Fukuda, Mr Abe's successor, made his first trip to the mainland as prime minister in December.