• Kyodo

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The secretaries-general of Japan’s ruling parties will visit China in late December to attend an exchange gathering with the Chinese Communist Party, a source in the ruling coalition said Sunday.

Toshihiro Nikai of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party and Yoshihisa Inoue of Komeito may also meet with China’s leadership, including President Xi Jinping, during the several-day visit from Dec. 24, the source said.

The plans of Nikai and Inoue were confirmed when the LDP secretary-general met with Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua in Tokyo on Friday, the source added.

Nikai and Inoue are scheduled to hold talks with Song Tao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party. Song visited North Korea earlier this month as Xi’s special envoy.

The Japanese lawmakers plan to discuss the handling of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, the source said, adding that they will also travel to Fujian Province, where Song built his career.

Nikai will likely deliver a speech at Central Party School, an organ that educates elite officials of the Communist Party. Although Yohei Kono, former speaker of the House of Representatives and father of Foreign Minister Taro Kono, has delivered speeches there in the past, it is rare for a serving Japanese politician to do so at the site, according to another government source.

In the regular meeting with the Communist Party, the Japanese politicians are expected to exchange views about potential Japanese cooperation on China’s Silk Road initiative, a scheme to create a vast infrastructure network in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Business executives including Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), are considering accompanying the pair on their trip.

The visit by the senior lawmakers is aimed at laying the groundwork for Xi’s first visit to Japan as president by activating an exchange between Japan’s ruling parties and the Chinese Communist Party, a source close to Nikai said.

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