Japan's new China envoy collapses in Tokyo

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 4:22am


The new Japanese ambassador to China was taken to hospital in in Tokyo yesterday, with media reporting he had collapsed unconscious.

Shinichi Nishimiya, who was officially appointed on Tuesday, collapsed on the street near his home in the Shibuya district of the Japanese capital. Kyodo News said the ambassador was unconscious.

An official at the foreign ministry confirmed Nishimiya, 60, had been taken ill.

"We learned that ambassador Nishimiya was hospitalised this morning for poor health, but don't have any more details," he said.

The official added that he was not aware of any accident.

Jiji press, citing an unnamed government source, said foul play was not suspected.

The Sankei newspaper said a passer-by who saw the ambassador fall made an emergency call to police.

He was wearing a business suit, the Sankei said, citing an unnamed police source.

Nishimiya, a career diplomat, replaces Uichiro Niwa at a time when Japan and China are at loggerheads over a disputed island chain in the East China Sea.

Niwa, a former businessman, raised hackles at home earlier this year when he said a plan by Tokyo's nationalist governor to buy the islands could cause a crisis between China and Japan, jeopardising economic ties.

Nishimiya's appointment came on the day the government in Tokyo said it had finalised the purchase of three islands in a chain it administers under the name Senkaku, but which are claimed by China as Diaoyu.

The archipelago, which lies 200km from Taiwan, sits near an important shipping lane and the nearby waters are believed to harbour valuable mineral resources.