BEIJING - China’s top diplomat will start a three-day visit to Japan on Thursday that will include a meeting with national security adviser Shotaro Yachi, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Monday.
Yang Jiechi is likely to work out details of President Xi Jinping’s planned visit to Japan for this year’s summit of the Group of 20 major economies in Osaka on June 28 and 29, sources said last week.
Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, is likely to meet with Yachi, a close Abe aide, on Thursday and with Abe the next day, according to the sources.
A visit to Japan by Xi would be his first since he came to power in 2013 and the first by a Chinese head of state since Hu Jintao in November 2010.
Tokyo is making efforts to invite Xi to visit Japan again, as a state guest, after the G20 summit.
Yachi and Yang are also expected to discuss future exchanges of visits by the two countries’ top leaders.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to visit China as early as this year for a trilateral summit with the Chinese and South Korean leaders.
Japan and China have been mired in a territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The group of uninhabited islets, which are called Diaoyu in Chinese, are controlled by Japan but claimed by China.
But ties have been improving recently, with the 40th anniversary last year of the signing and entering into force of the bilateral Treaty of Peace and Friendship serving as an incentive to forge better relations.