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Ex-Japan PM visits Beijing over islands issue

By ZHANG YUNBI | China Daily | Updated: 2013-01-29 02:14

A Japanese delegation, which includes a former prime minister, arrived in Beijing on Monday to discuss tension over the Diaoyu Islands.

However, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his first policy speech to parliament since winning the December election, reiterated his government's plan to boost defense spending.

Analysts urged both countries to engage in dialogue amid increasing signs of Japanese nationalism and growing public support to boost the military's role.

Ex-Japan PM visits Beijing over islands issue 

At the invitation of the China-Japan Friendship Association, a Japanese delegation led by former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama (center) and president of Japan-China Friendship Association Koichi Kato (first from left) arrived in Beijing on Monday on a four-day visit. WANG JING / CHINA DAILY

Tomiichi Murayama, former Japanese prime minister and a frequent visitor to China, arrived on Monday. He was accompanied on the four-day trip by Koichi Kato, president of Japan-China Friendship Association and former secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, the main party in Japan's ruling coalition.

Murayama plans to discuss the Diaoyu Islands, Japan's Kyodo news agency said.

Also in the delegation is Gen Nakatani, the LDP deputy secretary-general, and the news agency said he wanted to discuss easing any potential tension in the "security field".

The delegation came at the invitation of the China-Japan Friendship Association.

It follows visits this month by former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama and Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the New Komeito Party, the junior coalition partner.

Ties "have been dragged to a record low", and high-level talks are urgently needed, Kyuhei Muraoka, director-general of the Japan-China Friendship Association, said at a Beijing seminar co-hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Monday. Relations were damaged in September after the Japanese government illegally "purchased" part of the islands, which have belonged to China for centuries.

Tokyo has been adopting an "ostrich policy" toward the islands, said Gao Haikuan, vice-president of the China Society of the History of Sino-Japanese Relations.

"The mission of thawing ties will see little progress unless the islands issue is solved," Gao said.

Special coverage:

China-Japan Dispute over Diaoyu Islands

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