Ex-Japan Premier Fukuda May Have Met Xi on China Trip, Jiji Says

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda may have met Chinese President Xi Jinping on a secret visit to China, Jiji reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the trip.

Fukuda and Xi are believed to have explored the possibility of arranging a summit meeting between Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the news agency said yesterday, citing the people. Both Chinese and Japanese sides tried to prevent Fukuda’s July 27 visit and the possible meeting being made public, according to Jiji.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters today that the government had no knowledge of the visit. Fukuda’s office said on a telephone call that they couldn’t discuss the reported trip.

Sino-Japanese relations have been strained by wrangling over territorial disputes and historical disagreements, and so far Xi has not responded to Abe’s offer of a summit. Abe is now seeking a meeting at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing in November, according to the Mainichi newspaper.

A Fukuda meeting with Xi would have been the first by a senior Japanese political figure since Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of coalition partner New Komeito, went to Beijing in January 2013.

“Since there are issues, it is all the more important to have a leaders’ meeting,” Abe said in an interview in December last year at his official residence in Tokyo.

Japan will designate names for 158 remote islands today, including a cluster of islets claimed by both Japan and China, Kyodo News reported today, citing Minister for Ocean Policy Ichita Yamamoto.

Ships and planes regularly tail one another around the disputed East China Sea islands known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. Japan has accused China of flying fighter jets within tens of meters of its surveillance planes in the area.

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