Tokyo governor hopes China visit will boost ties

Updated: 2014-04-17 00:09

By ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily)

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China and Japan are scheduling more visits between officials from both nations, a sign of shared willingness to thaw the icy relationship.

Beijing city officials are in close contact with their counterparts in Tokyo to prepare for the visit of Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday.

Each nation voiced their expectations for Masuzoe's upcoming visit.

"China supports exchanges and communications between the two countries, which are conducive for boosting understanding between the two peoples," the spokeswomen said.

Masuzoe held a news conference on Tuesday afternoon and confirmed he will visit Beijing from April 24 to 26.

"I will be fortunate if (the visit) contributes to a better Japan-China relationship," he said.

He added that he will meet Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun and that he hopes to learn from Beijing's experiences hosting the Olympic Games in 2008. Tokyo is slated to host the Summer Olympics in 2020.

"This is the first time in 18 years that a Tokyo governor was invited by a Beijing mayor for a visit," said Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.

"We expect that the governor will contribute to the friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two cities," Hua said.

Last year, Masuzoe visited China and met with former state councilor Tang Jiaxuan, an influential figure on Japan-related affairs who now heads the China-Japan Friendship Association.

Back in Tokyo, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated Tokyo expects the visit to improve the bilateral relationship.

Suga said Masuzoe had already intended to visit China when he met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on April 10, Japan's Tokyo Broadcasting System reported.

"(Beijing and Tokyo) have a sister cities relationship and ... the Abe administration hopes to proactively make progress with China," Suga told reporters on Tuesday.

Masuzoe will also share Japan's experiences in handling pollution with Beijing, according to Japan's TV Asahi.

Hu Deping, a former senior official of the Communist Party of China, reportedly visited Japan about creating more people-to-people exchanges.

Japan's Kyodo news agency quoted unnamed sources saying on Tuesday that Hu, former deputy head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, went to Abe's official residence on April 8 for a meeting.

Media reports said Suga and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met Hu in Tokyo and expressed Japan's willingness to improve relations with China.

"Hu's visit has completely demonstrated Beijing's readiness for improving the relationship with Japan, and the Japanese side has also placed great priorities on the visit," said Zhou Yongsheng, professor of China Foreign Affairs University.

But Zhou added that Hu's visit will not improve ties overnight and that Japan must make promises and take initiatives to turn the relationship around.

Masahiro Koumura, the vice-president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is reportedly planning to visit China in May with a delegation of Japanese lawmakers.