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China warms to resuming lawmaker exchanges with Japan

Kyodo

China’s top legislature on Monday took a positive stance on resuming exchanges with the Diet, despite the prolonged chill in bilateral ties with Japan.

China expressed the sentiment during a meeting in Beijing with a Japanese political delegation led by Ichiro Aisawa, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

But the Chinese side, including Zhang Ping, vice chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, and Cao Weizhou, deputy secretary-general of the panel, did not say when it would like to restart the exchanges, Aisawa said.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Aisawa, who heads the Lower House steering committee, said he told Chinese officials that Japan wants to resume exchanges “by the end of this year or March next year, at the latest.”

Without specifying a time frame, the Chinese side said it wants to resume making contacts between the congress and the Lower House via “mutual efforts” and is prepared to send a delegation to Tokyo at an appropriate time, Aisawa said.

Exchanges have been stalled since January 2012 after a territorial dispute and wartime issues strained relations between Tokyo and Beijing.

The Diet and congress had organized a meeting almost once a year since 2005 to discuss bilateral and regional affairs.

The Japanese delegation is visiting at a time when the two countries are exploring the possibility of arranging the first official summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jingping on the sidelines of a regional summit next month in Beijing.