As Shinichi Nishimiya collapsed unconscious on the Tokyo streets only two days after being appointed Japan’s new Ambassador to China, followed by his abrupt death over the weekend, the government must now resume its search to replace Uichiro Niwa. Several circles within the Japanese government are now pushing for Yuji Miyamoto, a former Ambassador to China, to take up the position once more. As the disputed island tensions with Beijing are seen as rising every day, 66 year old Miyamoto is seen as the best choice with previous experience in China.
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba says that they are were in the middle of coordinating when tragedy befell Nishimiya last week, so it would be better to find a new ambassador quickly. Yuji Miyamoto served prior to Niwa, who, as an appointee from the private sector, has been seen as disappointment and inappropriate fit for his position. Miyamoto already has experience working in China during tense diplomatic relations; he served as Japan’s Ambassador from 2006 to 2010, and had to mend the fences after then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, a place many other Asian countries view as a supportive symbol for Japan’s past wartime aggressions.
While it would be rare for a diplomat to serve in the same post twice in the same country, there are others being considered. 64 year old Mitoji Yabunaka, a former high-ranking diplomat, has been named, as well as 62 year old Shigekazu Sato, the newly appointed Japanese Ambassador to Thailand. Whoever they end up selecting, hopefully it will be someone who act quickly and start to cool things down between China and Japan.
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