Japan’s new ambassador to China fell sick and was hospitalized two days after his appointment in the middle of an intensifying territorial dispute between the two countries.
Incoming envoy Shinichi Nishimiya, 60, was sent to the hospital for an unspecified illness, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Naoko Saiki said by phone. Nishimiya collapsed and lost consciousness near his Tokyo home, Kyodo News reported, without saying where it got the information.
The news comes as a dispute heats up between Asia’s two largest economies over rights to uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. The Japanese government nationalized the islands this week and China sent two patrol vessels to the area in response, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.
Japan announced on Sept. 11 that Nishimiya would replace Uichiro Niwa, the first private-sector appointee to become ambassador to China.
Niwa was at the center of growing bilateral tensions after his car was blocked and the Japanese flag attached to it ripped off by assailants in Beijing last month. He was cautioned by the government for saying in June that Tokyo Governor and China critic Shintaro Ishihara’s plan to purchase the islands would lead to an “extremely grave crisis.”
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