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Citizen Hatoyama to visit China next week, again press ‘East Asia Community’ theme

Kyodo

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will visit China from Tuesday through next Friday at the invitation of a Chinese academic organization, political sources said Thursday.

Hatoyama, who served as the Democratic Party of Japan’s prime minister between September 2009 and June 2010, will visit China as a private citizen, the sources said.

Hatoyama, who did not run in the Dec. 16 Lower House election, is expected to meet with senior Chinese officials as part of efforts to help improve bilateral ties that have deteriorated amid the dispute over the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands. China, which calls the islets the Diaoyu, has recently been exerting its claim to the territory.

The ex-prime minister hopes to meet with China’s new leaders, including Xi Jinping, who replaced Hu Jintao as head of the Communist Party in December.

Hatoyama plans to hold discussions with the new Chinese leaders on the importance of mutually beneficial bilateral strategic relationships.

Hatoyama also plans to continue pressing for his “East Asian Community” concept that he pushed for while he was prime minister.

At prime minister, Hatoyama is known to have instructed the Imperial Household Agency to arrange a meeting between Xi and Emperor Akihito in December 2009 in breach of a protocol that requires a foreign dignitary to file a request to meet with the monarch at least one month in advance.