Japan’s new ambassador to China died this morning following an unspecified illness, the Foreign Ministry said today, five days after his appointment amid an intensifying territorial dispute between the two countries.
Incoming envoy Shinichi Nishimiya, 60, was hospitalized on Sept. 13, the ministry said at the time. Nishimiya collapsed and lost consciousness near his Tokyo home, Kyodo News reported, without saying where it got the information.
Tensions between Asia’s two largest economies have risen 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 last week and China dispatched six government vessels to nearby waters.
Japan announced on Sept. 11 that Nishimiya would replace Uichiro Niwa, the first private-sector appointee to become ambassador to China. Niwa’s car was blocked and the Japanese flag attached to it ripped off by assailants in Beijing last month.
Japan’s foreign minister and defense chief returned to Tokyo yesterday, cutting short a visit to Australia as anti-Japanese protests flared up across China. In Beijing, more than 1,000 people gathered outside the Japanese embassy yesterday, with some throwing eggs and plastic bottles outside, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.