Japanese Upper House members to visit China in February to resume regular parliamentary exchanges


A cross-party group of members of the House of Councilors is making final arrangements to send a delegation to China in late February and resume regular parliamentary exchanges with the Chinese for the first time in four years, sources close to the group said Friday.

The delegation is expected to meet with Zhang Dejiang, the third-highest official of the Chinese Communist Party and chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, according to the sources.

The envisioned visit by the Upper House members comes amid improved ties between Japan and China. An equivalent group in the House of Representatives, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, resumed regular contacts with Chinese lawmakers last year.

The meeting with members of the National People’s Congress is envisioned in Beijing around Feb. 22. Possible topics on the agenda include the territorial dispute over the Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea called the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyus in China.

Participants may also discuss issues related to the South China Sea and Chinese gas exploration in the East China Sea, according to the sources.

The delegation will consist of about 10 Upper House members from the LDP, Komeito, the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan and the smaller opposition Japanese Communist Party.

Upper House members and Chinese lawmakers had held similar meetings almost every year since March 2007, when the first such meeting was held in Tokyo. But regular contact was suspended after tensions rose between the two countries over the Senkakus in September 2012.