BEIJING: China’s top foreign policymaker will visit Japan on Tuesday for a high-level political dialogue, in the latest possible thaw between the Asian rivals despite territorial disputes and tensions.
State Councillor Yang Jiechi, whose visit was announced Monday by Beijing’s foreign ministry, will be the highest-ranking Chinese diplomat to make an official trip to Japan for several years.
Yang is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, Japan’s foreign ministry said in Tokyo.
It will be his first trip to Japan since he became State Councillor in 2013, a year after relations plunged following Tokyo’s nationalization of disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Despite close trade links between the world’s second- and third-largest economies, relations are also clouded by rows over wartime history. Beijing last month held a huge military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japan’s World War II defeat.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping and Abe met on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit last year, their handshake was marred by expressions of barely concealed distaste.
During his three-day trip Yang will meet the head of Japan’s National Security Council Shotaro Yachi as part of an ongoing series of meetings between the two countries, following the first in Beijing in July, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing.
The visit comes as Japanese media reported as many as four citizens have been detained in the past month on accusations of spying in China, the first such cases since 2010.