Japan delegation head to Beijing to mend ties with China
A delegation of senior Japanese lawmakers left for China yesterday to try to mend ties amid a territorial dispute which has prevented a leaders' summit.
The bipartisan delegation is led by Masahiko Komura, former foreign minister and vice-president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. It departed from Tokyo's Haneda airport in the morning for the three-day visit, officials said.
Japanese lawmakers are expected to meet Zhang Dejiang, the chairman of the National People's Congress, Kyodo reported.
The delegation is also scheduled to hold talks with former Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan and other officials, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said.
Members of the delegation, which includes former Japanese foreign minister Katsuya Okada, also hope to meet close aides to President Xi Jinping to try to arrange a summit between Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, NHK reported.
The two leaders have yet to hold a summit as relations between Tokyo and Beijing have fallen to their lowest point in years. Ties have eroded amid tensions over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. The islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, are claimed by both China and Japan, but are now controlled by Tokyo.
In November, Beijing declared an air defence identification zone that covers much of the sea, riling Tokyo and South Korea. Recent visits by Japanese lawmakers to a war shrine in Tokyo, meanwhile, have angered China.