BEIJING – Chinese leader Xi Jinping expressed his willingness Friday to improve relations with Japan despite the strain over the Senkaku Islands.
In a meeting with visiting New Komeito chief Natsuo Yamaguchi, Xi said he would “seriously consider” Yamaguchi’s proposal that Japan and China hold high-level dialogue, including a summit, according to Yamaguchi.
He quoted Xi as saying that despite the competing claims to the islets in the East China Sea, it is important that both nations address issues involving the territory “through dialogue and consultations.”
Xi also said China “wants to promote the strategic relationship of mutual benefit with Japan from broad perspectives.”
Yamaguchi is the first senior lawmaker in the new ruling bloc to meet Xi since he became general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in November. Xi is set to replace Hu Jintao as the country’s president in March.
Yamaguchi handed a letter to Xi from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Xi meanwhile asked Yamaguchi to send his regards to Abe.
The meeting in the Great Hall of the People represents the highest-level political contact between the two countries since the Japanese government purchased three of the five islets in September, sparking a wave of anti-Japan protests in China and an increase in China’s maritime and airborne activities around the Senkakus.
“A personal letter is proof that Prime Minister Abe strongly wants to improve Japan-China relations,” Yamaguchi told former Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan on Wednesday.