Chinese defense minister to visit Japan this month

Kyodo News

Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan is looking to visit Japan starting Aug. 29, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

The visit is expected to last five days, and officials are arranging a meeting between Cao and Defense Minister Yuriko Koike for Aug. 30, the sources said.

It would be the first trip to Japan by a Chinese defense minister in 9 1/2 years. The last visit was by Chi Haotian in February 1998.

Koike and Cao are expected to discuss reciprocal visits by vessels of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Chinese navy, and the creation of a hotline between the two countries’ defense authorities, the sources said.

Koike intends to express concern about China’s rapidly growing military spending and potential, and to call for more disclosure, they said.

Such a meeting would be the first between Japanese and Chinese defense chiefs since Shigeru Ishiba and Cao held talks in China in September 2003.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with Chinese leaders to boost bilateral defense exchanges when he visited China last year.

Bilateral defense exchanges have been suspended due partly to former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s annual visits to Yasukuni Shrine.