Japan's Abe sends peace envoy to China amid bitter territorial row

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 25, 2013 08:10 hrs

An ambassador from Tokyo has handed Chinese leader Xi Jinping a personal letter from newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a meeting aimed at smoothing relations amid a bitter territorial row.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of the New Komeito party, the junior partner in Japan's ruling coalition, is the most senior Japanese parliamentarian to visit China since the row over disputed islands intensified last September.

At the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday both sides expressed appreciation for the trip before beginning private talks.

According to the Age, Jinping, the head of China's ruling party and the country's president-to-be, said that Yamaguchi's visit to China came at a time when Sino-Japanese relations are at a very sensitive phase and they attached a great importance to his visit.

Yamaguchi said he was 'incomparably happy' about the meeting.

While he has no official role in the Tokyo government which is headed by Abe, the occasion was a rare positive step as the territorial dispute weighs heavily on relations between the two Asian giants, the report said.

Earlier this week, Yamaguchi said he hoped to improve ties, but that Tokyo had no plans to compromise over the islands.

Before his departure, he told reporters that he would like to make a step towards opening the door to normalising relations with China, but regarding the islands, he said that no territorial problem existed, the report added. (ANI)

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