Tough task ahead for Japan's new China ambassador

Updated: 2016-05-17 07:50

By Cai Hong(China Daily)

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Tough task ahead for Japan's new China ambassador

Yutaka Yokoi,Japanese ambassador to China.

The arrival of Japan's new ambassador to China, Yutaka Yokoi, in Beijing on Sunday may reflect a new spirit in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's China policy.

Having served as consul general in Shanghai and chief minister at the Japanese embassy in China previously, Yokoi already has connections with the country. Yokoi's command of the Chinese language and knowledge of China will be beneficial for his job, as a common tongue enables people to communicate directly and helps build friendliness.

At a farewell party seven Japan-China friendship groups threw in Tokyo on Friday, Yokoi told his audience that building trust remains the crux of the issue. He also spoke of his parents. His mother went to Northeast China in the 1940s to marry his father who was working at a Japanese company there. During her stay in China, his mother made friends and played mahjong, a popular Chinese pastime, with local people.

The task Yokoi faces in Beijing, however, will not be easy.

The two countries still have various unsettled issues to resolve, including their territorial dispute over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Japan is also further estranging China by poking its nose into the South China Sea issue.

Still, domestic politics may be the real challenge Yokoi faces.

He is the first of the "China school" of diplomats, officers trained for years in the Chinese language in China to hold the ambassadorship. The embassy has played a limited role in the Abe administration, which has preferred to tackle bilateral issues through national security chief Shotaro Yachi.

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