In the latest sign of Beijing’s willingness to improve bilateral ties, sources close to Japan-China relations said Sunday China is making arrangements to send Vice President Wang Qishan to Japan in October to attend a key ceremony to proclaim Emperor Naruhito’s accession.
The plan to send President Xi Jinping’s confidant to the ceremony on Oct. 22 comes as the U.S.-China trade war has been driving Beijing to promote economic cooperation with Japan.
Wang, previously one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the ruling Communist Party, was elected vice president in March 2018 in a rare personnel move for an individual who had retired from the party’s apex of power.
Beijing believes that “China’s sentiment toward Japan has improved, but Japan’s toward China has not after having deteriorated” over wartime history and territorial disputes, a Chinese diplomatic source said.
Another Chinese source said Wang “has a special place in the government, and sending him (to the ceremony) would show China places great significance on the ritual.”
In November 1990, China sent Vice Premier Wu Xueqian to the Sokuirei Seiden no gi ceremony proclaiming former Emperor Akihito’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
Wu’s attendance at the ceremony paved the way for a visit to China by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in 1992.
During his expected visit to Japan in October, Wang will likely hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and some foreign guests attending the ceremony.
In 2009, Wang led the Chinese delegation to an economic dialogue in Tokyo.
Abe and Xi agreed in their meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka in June to promote reciprocal visits by leaders and senior officials of the two countries.
Tokyo and Beijing are eyeing a state visit to Japan by Xi next spring.