BEIJING – The head of the junior partner in Japan’s ruling coalition on Thursday handed Chinese President Xi Jinping a letter from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and invited him to visit Tokyo around spring.
Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the Komeito party, briefly met with Xi in a group with other political leaders who visited Beijing to attend an economic development conference organized by the Chinese Communist Party.
Yamaguchi told reporters that during a short conversation with Xi he also conveyed Abe’s willingness to hold talks with the president next month on the sidelines of economic and regional summits.
The delivery of the letter came a day after China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, held talks with Abe in Tokyo, during which the prime minister underscored the need for promoting high-level exchanges, despite persistent friction over territorial and wartime historical issues.
Abe also told Yang he looked forward to holding talks with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang when he attends next month’s conferences.
These include a G-20 summit in Turkey in mid-November and a proposed trilateral summit comprising Japan, China and South Korea in late October or early November in Seoul.
Yamaguchi, who heads the junior coalition partner of the Liberal Democratic Party, did not disclose what was written in Abe’s letter when he spoke to media.
But he said what he told Xi was “close” to the content of the personal letter.
On Thursday, he separately held talks with Jin Liqun, who is slated to become the first head of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Before wrapping up his four-day visit on Friday, Yamaguchi is also expected to hold talks with Liu Yunshan, the Communist Party’s fifth-ranked leader.
Japan’s relations with China have been steadily improving since Abe had one-on-one meetings with Xi in November and April on the sidelines of regional summits.
Nonetheless, most recently the two countries have been at odds over China’s successful bid to include documents on the Nanking Massacre in the “Memory of the World” program by UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency.
Japan has called into question the authenticity of China’s dossier on the 1937 widespread killings of Chinese citizens by the Japanese military.
Japanese officials have criticized the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which should be neutral in sensitive political and historical issues, for “unilaterally” registering the Chinese documents without allowing Japan to access them for verification.