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Japanese diplomat in letter mission


08:49, August 29, 2012

Bid to cool tension as Tokyo stresses importance of strategic relationship

A Japanese diplomat arrived in Beijing on Tuesday carrying a letter from his prime minister to President Hu Jintao, in what analysts described as an attempt to cool tensions fanned by territorial issues.

The diplomat's arrival came a day after a Japanese flag was pulled from a car in Beijing carrying the country’s ambassador to China.

Ambassador Uichiro Niwa was not hurt, and the Foreign Ministry said an investigation had been launched.

Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Japan’s parliamentary senior vice-minister of foreign affairs, carried the letter, Japanese television said.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a news conference on Tuesday that Noda stressed, in the letter, the importance of maintaining the strategic and beneficial relationship, and he called for "calm handling" of the Diaoyu Islands dispute.

Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun’s website said Yamaguchi was to meet senior Chinese officials, including Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Fu Ying.

But the Foreign Ministry has not confirmed that the letter has been handed over.

Ties between the two countries experienced new turbulence this month when Japanese rightists landed on the islands that belong to China and were also strained by the visit of Japanese cabinet members to the Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines Japanese war criminals.

"Tokyo has been dogged by a series of spats with its neighbors over territorial issues", and diplomatic deadlock with China may see Tokyo rethink its behavior, said Liu Jiangyong, a specialist on Japanese studies at Tsinghua University.

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