Emperor Akihito will meet Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, waiving a customary rule that he be notified a month in advance of such visits, the Imperial Household Agency said.
Xi is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on Monday. He reportedly requested a meeting with the Emperor without filing an official application, which is routinely submitted at least a month in advance.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said Friday the government is asking the Emperor to meet Xi because “bilateral ties between Japan and China are of high importance.”
The Democratic Party of Japan is often said to place a higher priority on stronger relations with China and other Asian countries than previous Liberal Democratic Party administrations, which leaned heavily toward the U.S.
Hirano, the top government spokesman, said he was not aware of the details of the customary “one-month rule.” However, he added that making an exception and granting a meeting does not conflict with the Constitution, which bars the Emperor from taking part in matters of state.
“We are not bringing in politics (regarding the Emperor’s activities),” Hirano said.
Beijing reportedly asked for a meeting between Xi and the Emperor in late November. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama asked Hirano to make arrangements for the meeting earlier this month.
“I am not aware of the specifics of the rules, but politically speaking, ties between Japan and China are important and that is why we are making the request. That’s the whole story,” Hirano said.
Xi is expected to meet with Hatoyama and business leaders. Afterward, he is scheduled to head on to South Korea, Cambodia and Myanmar.
The advance notice rule, which is designed to make it easier for the government to arrange meetings between foreign dignitaries and the Emperor, has been strictly observed over the past decade, with one or two exceptions when an ambassador to Japan had to leave in an emergency.
The government is apparently bending the rule in this instance because Xi is considered a likely candidate to become China’s next president.
Ichiro Ozawa, the influential No. 2 in Hatoyama’s DPJ, called the prime minister to discuss the issue Tuesday, administration sources said.
Ozawa, in Beijing on a two-day visit through Friday, met Thursday with Hu as part of an ongoing exchange between the DPJ and the Chinese Communist Party, whose general secretary is Hu.
Information from Kyodo added
Ozawa meets Liang
BEIJING (Kyodo) Ichiro Ozawa, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, met Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie in Beijing on Friday and expressed concern over China’s military buildup.
“There is sentiment in Japan that sees China’s military modernization as a threat,” Ozawa told reporters he informed Liang.
“If Japan were to strengthen armaments, it would not bring good results for the future of Japan and China,” Ozawa said.
The influential lawmaker quoted Liang as telling him that China’s military “serves to protect a large territory and border, definitely not to seek hegemony.”
Referring to China’s rising military expenditure, Liang was quoted as saying the increase is not so significant compared with other countries.
Ozawa was on a two-day visit to Beijing through Friday as part of regular exchanges between the DPJ and the Chinese Communist Party.
He was accompanied by more than 600 people, including around 140 DPJ lawmakers and about 400 DPJ supporters. Later Friday, Ozawa was to travel to Seoul.