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Japan Considers Next Ambassador to China
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The Japanese Government is considering naming Yuji Miyamoto as the next ambassador to China, the Japanese media reported over the weekend. The appointment aims to improve problematic bilateral ties, the Japan's Kyodo News Agency quoted government sources as saying.

Miyamoto, an ambassador in charge of Okinawa issues, is expected to succeed Koreshige Anami, who will have served as ambassador to China for five years this month, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported, citing government officials. The decision could be announced as early as this month, it said.

China-Japan relations have soured, in part due to the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine honoring 14 Class-A war criminals, which China sees as a symbol of Japanese militarism.

The personnel change is expected to become effective this month, but Japan's Foreign Ministry will make a final decision on the timing of the appointment after closely watching developments in bilateral ties, Kyodo said.

If he takes the new post, the most pressing job for Miyamoto, known as an expert on China, would be rebuilding Tokyo's ties with Beijing. Miyamoto has previously served at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing.

China-Japan relations were at a very low point last year and the two have entered 2006 with a long list of problems weighing down their relationship.

These include differences over Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine and gas and oil development rights in the East China Sea.

No talks have yet been scheduled between the two sides to work out their problems.

The latest problem is an argument over the death of a member of staff at the Japanese Consulate General in Shanghai in 2004.

Japan said the death was linked to action by Chinese security agents, an allegation China said was "vile" behavior that "smears" Beijing's image.

Last week Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, when asked to comment on the allegation, said the death was suicide and said China and Japan had clearly defined the nature of the case 18 months ago.

(China Daily January 3, 2006)

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