Japan ex-PM Murayama visits China amid tensions

An aerial photo shows the Chinese marine surveillance ship Haijian No. 51 (L) cruising as a Japan Coast Guard ship Ishigaki sails near Uotsuri island, one of the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea in this file photograph by Kyodo September 14, 2012. REUTERS/Kyodo/Files

BEIJING: Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama is visiting China in the latest effort to use diplomatic backchannels to ease tensions over an island dispute.

Murayama arrived Monday on a four-day visit, during which he plans to discuss disputed East China Sea islands that are controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing. His trip follows similar visits this month by Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of a junior party in the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and former prime minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Like Hatoyama, Murayama is considered friendly to China. Murayama was prime minister in 1995, when delivered a well-received apology for Japan's World War II atrocities in China and elsewhere. It was not clear whether Murayama will meet any Chinese leaders.





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