Komeito, the junior coalition partner of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is arranging a trip to China by its lawmakers possibly in May, a source familiar with the two countries' relations said Wednesday, amid deteriorating bilateral ties over Beijing's detention of a Japanese businessman.
If realized, it will be the first visit to China by Japanese parliamentarians since the COVID-19 outbreak. Komeito has been in talks with China's ruling Communist Party about the dispatch of its delegation, the source said.
Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi, who will lead the delegation, aims to hold talks with members of the Chinese leadership led by President Xi Jinping as the party calls for increased dialogue between the two Asian neighbors, party sources said.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is considering visiting China this weekend and likely demand China release the Japanese national, an employee of Astellas Pharma Inc., detained since earlier this month on suspicion of engaging in spying activities, according to Japanese government sources.
The Komeito delegation will be joined by four to five officials including Makoto Nishida, chief of the party's House of Councillors members, and hold talks with senior Chinese officials such as Liu Jianchao, head of the Communist Party's International Liaison Department, the party sources said.
Komeito has sounded out about the delegation's meeting with Xi or Premier Li Qiang and intends to stress the importance of ensuring the safety of Japanese nationals in China so that people-to-people exchanges will be fully resumed between the two countries, they added.
The Komeito delegation will also discuss an early resumption of regular dialogue between the Communist Party and Japan's ruling parties. Beijing has repeatedly indicated its desire to restart the framework, but the LDP has not been totally in favor of it with some members upholding a hard-line policy against China.
Yamaguchi had originally explored a visit to China alone in January but the planned trip was scrapped amid Beijing's criticism of Tokyo's tightening of border controls on visitors from mainland China over COVID infection surges in the country.