National / Politics

Ruling bloc execs plan fence-mending visits to China, South Korea

Kyodo

Executives from the ruling coalition, including the secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, plan to travel to China and South Korea next year in a bid to improve ties, coalition lawmakers said Thursday.

LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki is making arrangements to visit China in early 2015 together with Yoshihisa Inoue, his counterpart in Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, while Toshihiro Nikai, chairman of the LDP’s General Council, is also considering making trips to China and South Korea next year, the lawmakers said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who heads the LDP, held his first talks last month with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, where they agreed to repair bilateral ties hurt by disagreements over territory and wartime history.

Abe has yet to hold formal bilateral talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, with relations strained by disputes over territory and wartime history.

Following the first Japan-China summit, Tanigaki met in Tokyo with a senior official of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. The two agreed to resume meetings between members of their ruling parties, which have been halted since 2009.

Tanigaki, known to have close connections with key Chinese officials, has told allies he wants to support Abe in improving ties with China. Tanigaki is expected to meet with Wang Jiarui, head of the international department, the lawmakers said, adding he is also hoping to hold talks with Xi and Premier Li Keqiang.

However, in light of Japan’s budget compilation process for fiscal 2015 and Diet deliberations expected to start in late January, Tanigaki’s trip may be delayed until spring, the lawmakers said.

Nikai, known as a pro-China lawmaker, is considering visiting South Korea in February and looking into the possibility of traveling to China in the spring or later, they said.

Nikai is hoping to take around 1,000 tourism industry representatives to South Korea in February and a 3,000-member delegation to China around May, the lawmakers said.

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