Japanese envoy to visit China ahead of possible summit: reports

TOKYO - Japan's top security diplomat could visit China as early as this week ahead of a possible visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to repair strained ties between the neighbours, local media said Sunday.

Shotaro Yachi, the head of the National Security Council, plans to visit Beijing for talks with Yang Jiechi, China's top diplomat who serves as state councillor, Japan's public broadcaster NHK and other media reported.

Yachi is expected to lay the groundwork for a summit between Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping, following their meeting in April in Jakarta on the sidelines of international conferences, they said.

Abe is considering travelling to China around the time of a September 3 ceremony in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Nikkei daily and the Mainichi Shimbun said.

Ties between Beijing and Tokyo have warmed over the past year, but strains over territorial disputes and attitudes towards wartime history continue to divide Asia's top economies.

China officially invited to Abe to attend the event marking Beijing's victory in what it calls the war of resistance against Japanese aggression, but it has yet to receive a response, Kyodo News reported.

The visit could be imperilled if Abe makes any divisive comments in a statement on the war anniversary, Japanese media said.

Abe's language in the planned statement is being closely watched by China and South Korea, who suspect him of being a historical revisionist bent on re-forging global opinion of Japan's warring.

Beijing and Seoul vociferously argue that Tokyo has not properly atoned for its actions in the 1930s and 1940s and does not fully accept its guilt.

Abe has said he may not issue a direct apology for Japan's past aggression as he wants Japan to have what he calls a less masochistic view of its history.