• Kyodo

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China is closely watching what kind of action the new government in Tokyo will take to improve soured relations, former Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan told New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi during his current visit to Beijing.

“No one wishes to see a deterioration in Japan-China relations. (Beijing) is closely monitoring the stance and remarks of the new government, the new Cabinet (of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) will take” to improve ties strained over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Tang was quoted by a New Komeito lawmaker as telling Yamaguchi in a meeting Wednesday.

Yamaguchi is carrying a letter from Abe, whose Liberal Democratic Party won the Dec. 16 election and formed a ruling coalition with New Komeito. Yamaguchi is the first senior lawmaker from the new administration to visit China since its launch in late December.

Sources said efforts are being made to arrange a meeting between Yamaguchi and China’s incoming president, Xi Jinping, on Friday, the final day of his four-day trip to China.

Yamaguchi was scheduled to hold separate talks later Thursday with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi as well as Wang Jiarui, head of the Communist Party’s International Department.

In Wednesday’s talks, Tang and Yamaguchi agreed that the two countries should continue dialogue and make joint efforts to get relations back on track. Tang was quoted as saying it is regrettable that the ousted Democratic Party of Japan government purchased three of the five main Senkaku islets from their Japanese private owner in September, a move that effectively placed the entire group under Tokyo’s control, despite China’s competing sovereignty claim to what it calls Diaoyu.

Yamaguchi said that if Tokyo and Beijing focus too much on the Senkakus, it will only worsen sentiment in each country. The two sides “should continue dialogue from a broader perspective” on bilateral relations, he said. Earlier Wednesday, Yamaguchi exchanged views on Sino-Japanese ties with scholars at the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

If Yamaguchi meets with Xi, he is expected to tell China’s new leader that a summit between Tokyo and Beijing should be held in the near future.

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