A group of lawmakers belonging to Japan's ruling party headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived Wednesday in Beijing for a three-day visit, another move to repair relations between the two countries badly damaged over territorial and historical issues.
The delegation, led by Takeshi Noda, a veteran lawmaker of the Liberal Democratic Party, is scheduled to meet with former Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan on Wednesday night and is seeking to meet a high-ranking Chinese official from the leadership under President Xi Jinping during their stay in the capital through Friday.
The visit comes just a day after another group of senior Japanese lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties ended a three-day visit to Beijing.
On Monday, the group led by Masahiko Komura, vice president of the LDP, told Zhang Dejiang, who is ranked third in the Communist Party of China, that Abe is hoping to hold a formal meeting for the first time with Xi on the sidelines of this year's summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in November in Beijing.
While agreeing with Komura on the need to improve public sentiment in the two countries toward each other by promoting exchanges between lawmakers, Zhang denounced Japan for the deterioration in bilateral relations.
Zhang, who sits on the Chinese party's powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, not only criticized Japan's control of the Senkaku Islands but also Abe's visit in December to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo and the prime minister's views regarding wartime history, according to Komura.
The two delegations' visits were made at a time of almost no high-level political contacts between Tokyo and Beijing, a situation that has lasted for several years.
Abe and Xi have yet to hold official talks since they each came to office more than a year ago.