Friendship talks with China eyed

JIJI

Beijing and Tokyo may hold bilateral friendship committee meetings in Japan later this month that will be joined by former Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, Chinese government sources said.

According to the sources, the meetings of the New Japan-China Friendship Committee for the 21st Century may be held in Nagasaki and Tokyo.

Because Tang, head of the committee’s Chinese side, reportedly has major influence over new Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s policy toward Japan, Beijing apparently hopes to use the meetings as an opportunity to improve ties with Tokyo, which have been strained by the Senkaku Islands dispute.

Bilateral tensions heightened after Japan effectively nationalized the five-islet uninhabited chain in the East China Sea last September. This led to the cancellation or postponement of many bilateral intergovernmental and other events, and sparked anti-Japanese rallies and product boycotts in China.

The friendship committee meetings were initially scheduled for last November, but have been put off.

Tang usually meets with senior officials of Japan’s government when he visits. But under the current situation, it is not clear whether he will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he possibly visits for the friendship committee meetings.

Nagasaki Prefecture is keen to promote friendship with China. Its governor, Hodo Nakamura, held talks with Xi in Beijing in August 2010, while his predecessor, Genjiro Kaneko, now a member of the House of Councilors, has met with Xi several times in the past.

Coral poacher held

NAHA, Okinawa Pref.
JIJI

The Japan Coast Guard arrested the skipper of a Chinese coral-gathering boat on Tuesday on charges of operating in Japan’s exclusive economic zone without permission.

A coast guard aircraft spotted the Chinese boat 44 km east-northeast of Okinawa’s Miyakojima at around 7:45 a.m. A patrol ship of the Ishigaki Coast Guard Office’s Miyakojima station went to the location and guardsmen arrested the 44-year-old Chinese skipper. The boat had 10 crew members aboard.