• Kyodo

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A joint Japanese business delegation will kick off an eight-day visit to China next Tuesday in the hope of expanding bilateral economic ties through talks with Chinese government officials and local executives.

“We’d like to talk with officials of economic ministries and political leaders over whether it is possible for state-owned companies to carry out structural reforms,” Shoji Muneoka, head of the Japan-China Economic Association and chairman of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., said during a Tuesday meeting of the group.

Muneoka will lead the delegation of over 200 members this year.

The visit comes amid hopes for an improvement in Sino-Japanese ties through economic diplomacy as the two countries remain at odds over the Japanese-controlled, China-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The islands are known as the Diaoyus in China.

The delegation is expected to call on China to address the steel glut in the world’s second-largest economy, which has affected Japanese firms.

It will be the second time for the three bodies — the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japan-China Economic Association — to send a joint delegation to China. The group met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last year.

The delegation has requested meetings with President Xi Jinping and Li during the upcoming visit.

Keidanren largely consists of big companies, while the chamber of commerce represents smaller firms.

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