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Japan's foreign minister invited to visit China

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, left, prepare to attend a Diet session at the lower house of parliament, on Jan. 23, 2023, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Friday he has received an invitation from his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang to visit China, as the two countries move toward stabilizing ties.

    Hayashi told a press conference that Tokyo will "continue to coordinate" with Beijing on a date for what would be the first visit to China by a Japanese foreign minister since December 2019.

    The invitation was extended when Hayashi and Qin, who became foreign minister in late December, held 50-minute phone talks, their first as their nations' top diplomats, on Thursday night.

    Hayashi's trip was agreed upon by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Xi Jinping when they met in Bangkok in November, as part of their efforts to improve bilateral ties often strained over issues such as the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China claims.

    During their Thursday talks, Hayashi and Qin also pledged to work together toward the realization of "constructive and stable relations" between the two countries, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

    Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a separate news conference on Friday that Hayashi and Qin "made a good start" to facilitating close communication at all levels between the two nations.

    Qin, a former ambassador to the United States, succeeds Wang Yi, who was promoted to the 24-member Politburo following the October congress of the ruling Communist Party.

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