Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met earlier this month with the eldest son of the late Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang, sources said Tuesday, in a development that signals efforts by Tokyo to mend ties with Beijing.
Abe apparently explored a chance to hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping when he met with Hu Deping, who is known to be close to Xi, amid bilateral tensions over a territorial row and differing perceptions of wartime history.
Hu, a former member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, visited Japan from April 6 to 13, invited by the Foreign Ministry. He exchanged views with senior government officials, including Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Hu met with Abe when he visited the prime minister’s office on April 8 for talks with Suga, the sources said. The government at the time only announced Hu’s meeting with Suga.
Suga said he briefed Hu on Japan’s position that it sees China as a very important partner and that the two countries must return to seeking a strategic relationship of mutual benefit despite having problems over individual issues.
Hu’s father is known for having developed close relations with Japanese leaders. Reform-minded Hu Yaobang was ousted from power in 1987, and his death in 1989 sparked the democracy movement of the same year.
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