Ex-Chinese State Councilor Tang eager to improve ties with Japan

Former Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan expressed his willingness Thursday to improve ties between Beijing and Tokyo at an informal meeting of experts in bilateral diplomacy in southwestern Japan.

"The Japan-China relationship is facing hardship and difficulties...but I came here with a passion to propel its improvement," Tang said at the two-day meeting of the New Japan-China Friendship Committee for the 21st Century which opened in Nagasaki.

"Persistent efforts are necessary," said Tang, head of the China-Japan Friendship Association, in his address at the outset of the meeting, in a remark believed to reflect the intentions of President Xi Jinping's administration.

Tang, who spent much time in charge of Chinese policy toward Japan and remains an influential figure, was part of the meeting aimed at formally resuming the dialogue of experts from the two countries that has been suspended due to the strained bilateral ties.

The Chinese delegation to the meeting, led by Tang, includes former Chinese Ambassador to Japan Chen Jian, while sitting envoy Cheng Yonghua, although not a member, also attended. Japan Post Holdings Co. President Taizo Nishimuro chaired the Japanese side.

The forum had been held continuously over the years but was postponed since 2012 amid diplomatic tensions following the Japanese government's purchase of a major part of the Senkaku Islands, which China claims as Diaoyu, from a private Japanese owner in September that year.