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Japanese visit underlines thaw in relations

Updated: 2015-05-22 07:29
By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)

A Japanese delegation with more than 3,000 members is visiting China, a development viewed by observers as the latest sign of progress in efforts to drag the relationship between the countries out of a recent low.

In another development, Beijing and Tokyo decided on Thursday to resume official ministerial-level talks between their financial chiefs.

Toshihiro Nikai, a heavyweight figure from Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is leading the delegation on a weeklong tour that started on Wednesday.

Nikai, the LDP's General Council chairman and a major figure in Japan's tourism industry, met Hu Chunhua, the Party secretary of Guangdong province, on Thursday and spoke positively about the prospect of greater contact between the two peoples.

The delegation's 3,000 members include representatives of Japanese regions and businesses and are due to travel to Beijing before returning home.

Leading Japanese media, including the Kyodo News agency, have speculated that it is possible Nikai will meet President Xi Jinping during his stay in the capital.

Feng Wei, a professor of Japanese studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said Nikai has supported efforts to improve Japan's relationship with China.

Yang Bojiang, an expert on Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that while Japan has mixed feelings about China because of territorial issues, Tokyo has recently "spoken positively" about the bilateral relationship.

The thawing relationship gives a boost to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to revitalize the domestic economy, Yang said.

Li Jinzao, head of the National Tourism Administration, has hailed Nikai as "an old friend and good friend of the Chinese people who has been dedicating himself to boosting bilateral tourism exchanges and public-level interactions".

At a meeting in Tokyo last month, Li told Nikai that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the delegation and the visit will help to fortify friendly interactions and cooperation over tourism.

The governments agreed on a four-point "principled consensus" for improving ties in November, and Xi and Abe have since met twice.

Cheng Yonghua, China's ambassador to Japan, said in a speech in Nagoya on Tuesday that the second meeting between Xi and Abe "highlighted the direction for the consistent improvement of the bilateral relationship".

The Ministry of Finance announced on Thursday that the fifth bilateral finance dialogue will be held on June 6 in Beijing.

Finance Minister Lou Jiwei and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso will co-host the meeting.

Discussions will focus on the two economies in the global context and financial cooperation in the international financial area, the ministry said.


(China Daily 05/22/2015 page1)

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