# Chinese PM Wen to visit Japan
by Kyoko Hasegawa Kyoko Hasegawa
– Tue May 18, 8:44 am ET
TOKYO (AFP) – China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will visit Japan for three days from May 30 for the highest-level official visit from Beijing since 2008, Japan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
Wen will arrive the day after a summit with Japan, China and South Korea on the South Korean island of Jeju. He is to meet his counterpart Yukio Hatoyama in Tokyo on May 31, and Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on June 1.
President Hu Jintao last went to Tokyo in May 2008, and Wen joined a three-way summit with South Korea in Fukuoka in December that year. Hatoyama visited Beijing in October and plans to visit the Shanghai World Expo in June.
Kyodo News agency has reported that Wen will also visit Mongolia and Myanmar on what would be a four-nation tour until June 3.
China’s foreign ministry refused to comment on Wen’s travel plans.
Relations between Asian giants Japan and China, the world’s number two and three economies respectively, have warmed but are still often strained by their wartime history and ongoing disputes over territory and resources.
Hatoyama, a centre-left leader who took power last September, has promoted closer bonds between Japan and its East Asian neighbours as well as the long-term goal of forming a European Union-style Asian community of nations.
Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada announced Tuesday that Japan will relax visa requirements for Chinese tourists starting this summer in a bid to boost the number of visitors to the country.
“We expect tourists from China to increase to up to 10 times the current level” as a result of the changes, including lowering the income threshold for Chinese eligible for tourist visas, Okada said.
But ties between Tokyo and Beijing have suffered again in recent weeks because of incidents on the seas, where both countries have long disputed island chains and territorial waters rich in resources.
In recent weeks Chinese helicopters from naval flotillas have twice staged close fly-bys of Japanese navy ships keeping watch on them, and a Chinese marine survey ship pursued a Japanese coastguard vessel in the East China Sea.
The three incidents prompted diplomatic protests from Japan, which has long eyed China’s military build-up nervously.
In another recent quarrel, Okada last weekend told his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi that Beijing should cut its nuclear arsenal or at least stop stockpiling more atomic weapons.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said Yang had “refuted the irresponsible remarks by Japan on the spot” and had “pointed out that China’s nuclear strategy and nuclear policy is transparent”.
Okada, asked about the naval incidents, said Tuesday: “Relations between Japan and China are in good condition in general, and my stance is that we will resolve specific issues step by step so as to further deepen Japan-China ties.”
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