Japan will send the head of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and a destroyer to the Chinese Navy’s fleet review in late April to strengthen defense exchanges, the Japanese government confirmed Thursday.
MSDF Chief of Staff Hiroshi Yamamura will make a four-day trip from April 22 to attend the naval review on April 23 in waters off the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, according to the Defense Ministry, becoming the first MSDF chief to visit the country in five years.
Bilateral meetings between Yamamura and other participating countries’ naval chiefs are being arranged, the ministry and the MSDF said.
Japan will send the MSDF destroyer Suzutsuki with some 250 personnel on board, the first such dispatch to China since December 2011, as part of mutual naval visits that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in October to resume.
The fleet review will take place to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Navy.
MSDF destroyers and Chinese warships made mutual visits from 2007 to 2011, but the exchanges came to a halt in 2012 when Tokyo brought the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, called Diaoyu in China, under state control, straining bilateral ties.