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Diplomats in Beijing mull ways to improve Sino-Japanese ties

Staff Report

A high-ranking Foreign Ministry official from Tokyo and his new Chinese counterpart on Tuesday “apparently” discussed ways to improve deteriorated relations between the two countries, NHK television reported.

Visiting Beijing, Junichi Ihara, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, talked with Kong Xuanyou, the new director general of the Department of Asian Affairs at the Chinese Foreign Ministry over dinner, during which the two top bureaucrats exchanged views on mending tattered bilateral ties, NHK said without citing sources.

Foreign Ministry officials in Tokyo only explained the meeting was “mainly intended (for Ihara) to meet Kong for the first time, as Kong took office two months ago,” the broadcaster said.

The relations between the two countries are at record low due to issues surrounding interpretation of the two countries wartime past as well as over the Senkaku Islands, which are under Okinawa jurisdiction. China also claims the islets and calls them Diaoyu.

The meeting took place after the delegates from Japan, including Ihara, and North Korea met in the Chinese capital over the North’s investigation into its past abductions of Japanese nationals.

The Japanese and Chinese bureaucrats also discussed issues related North Korea, following this meeting as well as Pyongyang’s launch of two short-range ballistic missiles into waters off its east coast Sunday, according to NHK.