The government is considering appointing Hideo Tarumi, a senior Foreign Ministry official known to be an expert on China, as the new ambassador to Beijing, sources with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday.

The government is apparently looking to make use of Tarumi’s network of contacts in China and information-gathering skills. The planned appointment will become official after securing the agreement of the host country.

If he assumes the post, Tarumi, 59, would be tasked with navigating the complex relationship between the two countries, often tested by differing views of wartime history and territorial issues but with deep economic ties.

Like current Ambassador Yutaka Yokoi, 65, who has been in the post since May 2016, Tarumi is a “China School” diplomat, a term used to refer to those who have undergone Chinese language training with a specific focus on advancing relations with the emerging power.

Among Tarumi’s priorities would be arranging the timing of a state visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping that was postponed from the spring due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Recent incursions by Chinese ships near the Senkaku Islands, a group of East China Sea islets administered by Japan but claimed by China, have drawn protests from Tokyo.

Japan has also criticized China over the introduction of a new national security law in Hong Kong that could erode freedoms in the semiautonomous region.

A graduate of Kyoto University, Tarumi joined the ministry in 1985 and led a division related to China and Mongolia. He has served as a minister at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing.

Since July 2019, Tarumi has been head of Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi’s secretariat.

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