Japan's new ambassador to China dies before making it to Beijing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 4:34am


The newly appointed Japanese envoy to China died in a Tokyo hospital yesterday, officials said, ruling out any link to growing anti-Japan protests in Chinese cities as a result of an escalating territorial row over a chain of islands in the East China Sea.

Shinichi Nishimiya, who was officially appointed last Tuesday, was admitted to hospital after collapsing on a street near his home in the capital's Shibuya district last Thursday, reports said.

"Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya died in a hospital," the foreign ministry said.

An official said Nishimiya's death had "nothing to do with any accident or anti-Japanese demonstrations" in China.

Nishimiya, a career diplomat, was to replace the incumbent Uichiro Niwa at a time when Japan and China are at loggerheads over the disputed Diaoyu islands, known in Japan as the Senkakus.

Niwa raised hackles at home when he said a plan by Tokyo's nationalist governor to buy the islands could cause a crisis between the two countries and jeopardise economic ties.

Japan insists that there is no territorial dispute over the islands.

Nishimiya had planned to leave for Beijing in October. The Japanese government was now considering a replacement from among retired foreign ministry officials, local reports said.