TOKYO: Japan will seek a bilateral summit between its prime minister and China’s new leaders as early as May as part of efforts to defuse an ongoing diplomatic row, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Sunday.
Kishida, speaking on public broadcaster NHK, said the meeting may be possible on the sidelines of the annual trilateral summit with China and South Korea, which usually takes place in May.
“As for a Japan-China summit meeting, we recognise the importance of communication between national leaders,” Kishida said.
“We have a three-way meeting with China and South Korea at around May every year... We will seek an opportunity of dialogue at such occasions,” he said.
But Kishida admitted the details of this year’s trilateral summit, which is to be hosted by South Korea, have yet to be finalised.
Japan’s hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has had no summit meetings with Chinese leaders since he took power in December amid a diplomatic row over disputed islands in the East China Sea - called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
A report said on Friday that Abe will send his Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso to China next month in what would be the first high-level meeting of the Asian powers’ new governments.
Japan’s Sankei Shimbun daily said Aso planned to meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, both of whom were confirmed in the top posts after a once-in-a-decade power transition this month.
Abe has used a tough rhetoric over the spat with China.