Top diplomat dispatched to China

Japan has sent a top diplomat, Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai, to China to seek ways to mend bilateral ties that have been frayed by the dispute over theSenkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

“I will convey Japan’s position on the issue while listening to theirs,” Kawai told reporters upon his arrival in Beijing. The visit, scheduled for several days, was prompted the latest set of three Chinese surveillance vessels intruding into Japan’s territorial waters in the morning after the waters were reported to be clear of ships Sunday night.  Kawai, the top bureaucrat at the Foreign Ministry, is expected to meet with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun.

After the intrusions, the third since the government’s official decision to nationalize the Senkakus on Sept. 11th, the government set up a special task force at the prime minister’s office.  Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda instructed Kawai to make sure that government officials “work closely together and collect information,” according to a senior government official.  Kawai lodged a protest over the phone with Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua about the latest incursion.