Japanese PM to start delayed China visit

Updated: 2011-12-15 07:06

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Japanese media said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is set to visit China on Dec 25, and a Japanese Self-Defense Force warship will visit China on Dec 19 in a sign of resuming China-Japan military exchanges.

Kyodo News Agency said on Tuesday that both countries expect Noda to pay a two-day visit to Beijing.

Japan's Fuji TV said Noda will meet President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao during the visit.

Neither Beijing nor Tokyo have so far made an official announcement on the visit's final schedule and agenda.

"As for the detailed schedule, both sides are keeping in close touch for updates and coordination, and the related information will be released in a timely manner," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Wednesday.

China welcomes and attaches great importance to Noda's visit, said the spokesman.

Noda's visit will deal with preparations for commemorative events to mark next year's 40th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations, said Yang Bojiang, a professor of Japan studies at the University of International Relations in Beijing.

Meanwhile, Japan's Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that Kirisame, a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces destroyer, is starting a five-day friendly visit to China, according to Japanese news agency Jiji Press.

The 4,550-ton ship, carrying around 240 people, will travel from Japan's Sasebo naval base to Qingdao Port in eastern China, said the ministry.

The trip marks the resumption of bilateral navy exchanges between China and Japan. Mutual naval visits had been on hold since the collision last September between a Chinese trawler and Japanese coast guard patrol vessels, according to the ministry.

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday confirmed the naval visit.

"The ship's visit will pave the way for Noda's coming trip," said Yang, adding that the resumption of China-Japan military exchanges shows the goodwill from both sides to promote bilateral relations.

Chinese navy ship Shenzhen first visited Japan in November 2007, and in return the Japanese destroyer Sazanami visited Zhanjiang, a coastal city in southern Guangdong province in June 2008.

Bilateral military exchanges flourished after the Democratic Party of Japan became the ruling party in 2009, but cooled down in 2010, said Yang. Bilateral ties became tense after Japan detained Chinese captain Zhan Qixiong and his crew on Sept 7, 2010, after the trawler collided with two Japanese coast guard patrol vessels near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.