• Kyodo


A veteran member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party will attend an international economic forum opening Sunday in Beijing, and plans to deliver a letter from Abe to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai, a pro-China lawmaker, will take part in the two-day forum with senior economic vice minister Yoshifumi Matsumura, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters Friday.

The forum, focused on China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, is aimed at promoting Xi’s vision of greater economic connectivity among Asia, Europe and Africa along with leaders and other representatives from about 100 countries.

“Japan has been watching with interest whether the One Belt, One Road initiative will contribute to the region’s sustainable development,” Kishida said. “We hope that there will be meaningful discussions among the participants.”

Nikai expressed enthusiasm on Thursday about improving bilateral relations chilled by disputes in the East China Sea on the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, which China claims as Diaoyu and Taiwan claims as Tiaoyutai. He told reporters after meeting with Abe that he intends to meet Xi and directly deliver the prime minister’s letter.

Beijing has invited Nikai and Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko to participate in the forum.

But Matsumura will attend in place of Seko, apparently out of concern that the METI chief’s participation may have a potential impact on relations between Japan and the United States, which has been urging China to correct Washington’s massive trade deficit with Beijing, a Japanese government source said.

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