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Tokyo Gov. Masuzoe to visit Beijing from April 24

JIJI

Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said Tuesday that he will visit Beijing for three days from April 24 at the invitation of Wang Anshun, mayor of the Chinese capital.

Masuzoe told reporters that during his stay, he and Wang will exchange views on various issues, including countermeasures against PM2.5, particulate matter that has caused serious air pollution in China and spread outward, affecting even parts of Japan.

Through the visit, Masuzoe apparently hopes to help the Japanese and Chinese governments promote efforts to improve bilateral relations, which have been strained over history and other issues. The Japanese and Chinese capitals have sister-city relations.

Masuzoe will be the first Tokyo governor to visit Beijing at the invitation of the city’s mayor since Yukio Aoshima in 1996.

Masuzoe and Wang are also expected to talk about how the two cities can cooperate in social security.

The governor said he also wants to hear about Beijing’s experience in hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in order to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.

While acknowledging that central governments are exclusively in charge of diplomacy and security, Masuzoe said that Tokyo and Beijing can cooperate in some ways in countermeasures against PM2.5 and social security. It is important to continue cooperation, he added.

“I would be happy if this will eventually help improve Japan-China relations, even a little,” Masuzoe said.

At a separate press conference Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Masuzoe had notified Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of his planned trip to Beijing before the announcement.

“The Abe administration hopes for the promotion of interchanges between local communities in Japan and China, as well as bilateral cultural and economic exchanges,” Suga said.