Even with an intensifying territorial row with China, a Japanese business delegation composed of prominent business leaders flew to Beijing on Thursday to meet with the country’s new political leaders and help ease the troubled relations across the East China Sea. The mission includes 16 members of the Japan-China Economic Association, led by Toyota chairman Fujio Cho, for a 3-day trip originally scheduled last September but was postponed after anti-Japan rallies swept all over China over the island dispute.
A boycott of Japanese products ensued, a key result of the worsening diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Beijing. This hurt Japanese exports to China, a key market for the electronics and automobiles that make up a very big percentage of the sales that Japan’s manufacturing sector is banking on. A spokeswoman for the association said that they wanted to make the visit before the end of the fiscal year (end of March) and this seemed like a good time, since the National People’s Congress is finished and China has a new leader in Xi Jinping. She added that “hopes are high” that trade relations between the two countries can be improved.
The mission had asked to meet with senior officials and key decision-makers in the new Chinese government, including Premier Li Keqiang, but has not yet received any confirmation if the meetings will go ahead. The group was expected to meet Vice Commerce Minister Chen Jian and former State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan, who leads the China-Japan Friendship Association, later this Thursday. China has traditionally been Japan’s biggest trade partner, but the relationship has soured substantially as the two sides continue to dispute sovereignty in a group of islands in the East China Sea, which Tokyo controls as the Senkakus but Beijing claims as the Diaoyus.[ via GMA News ]