Former Japanese prime minister begins four-day visit to China, hopes to meet with leaders

Kyodo

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama started on Tuesday a four-day visit to China, during which he hopes to meet with national leaders, including Xi Jinping, who replaced Hu Jintao as head of the Communist Party in December.

Hatoyama, known as being friendly with China, plans to hold talks with former State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, who is president of the China-Japan Friendship Association, and other officials.

Hatoyama’s visit comes as bilateral relations have sunk to their lowest level in years in the wake of the Japanese government’s purchase of part of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea from their Japanese owner in September last year.

The uninhabited islets are administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan.

Hatoyama, who was prime minister from September 2009 and June 2010, is visiting China in a private capacity at the invitation of a Chinese academic organization.

He did not run for the Lower House in December’s election.