In the midst of growing tension between the two Asian superpowers, Natsuo Yamaguchi, who is acting as an envoy for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in order to deliver a letter whose contents have not yet been disclosed.
Yamaguchi is the of the New Komeito party, the junior party in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, making him the most senior politician to visit China since the territorial dispute erupted late last year. After the meeting, Yamaguchi told reporters that Japan wants to maintain ties with China and that he is suggesting that a summit between the leaders of the two nations be held. Xi Jinping made a statement before the visit, saying that China is attaching a great importance to the meeting. The foreign ministry later released a statement quoting Xi as saying that Japan needs to face up to history and facts and must work hard with China to resolve the issue through dialogue.
Ties between China and Japan have worsened after the Japanese government last year nationalized a group of uninhabited islands that both China and Taiwan are also claiming to be theirs. Several Chinese ships have been reported to have sailed in what Japan claims to be its territorial waters around the islands, and there has been at least one claim of a Chinese government, but not military, plane flying over Japanese airspace. In addition to increasing the budget of its self-defense forces in response to the situation, Abe is also trying to rally potential allies in Southeast Asia, many of whom are also involved in a territorial dispute with China.[ via BBC News ]