Japan delegation leaves for Beijing to mend ties with China

Chinese marine surveillance ship Haijian No. 51 (centre) sails near Japan Coast Guard vessels (right and left) and a Japanese fishing boat (front 2nd left) as Uotsuri island, one of the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, i
Chinese marine surveillance ship Haijian No. 51 (centre) sails near Japan Coast Guard vessels (right and left) and a Japanese fishing boat (front 2nd left) as Uotsuri island, one of the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, is background, in the East China Sea on July 1, 2013. A delegation of senior Japanese lawmakers left for Beijing on Sunday, May 4, 2014, on a mission to mend ties between the two neighbours amid a territorial dispute, which has prevented a leaders' summit. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - A delegation of senior Japanese lawmakers left for Beijing on Sunday on a mission to mend ties between the two neighbours amid a territorial dispute, which has prevented a leaders' summit.

The bipartisan delegation, led by Masahiko Komura, former foreign minister and vice president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, departed from Tokyo's Haneda airport Sunday morning on a three-day visit to China, officials said.

The mission consisted of nine lawmakers of both ruling and opposition parties belonging to the Japan-China Friendship Parliamentarians' Union.

During the trip, the Japanese lawmakers are scheduled to hold talks with former Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan and other Chinese officials, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said.

The delegation members, including former foreign minister also Katsuya Okada, also hope to meet close aides to Chinese President Xi Jinping in an effort to arrange a summit between Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, NHK reported.

The two leaders have yet to hold a summit as relations between Tokyo and Beijing have fallen to their lowest point for years.

Chinese vessels and aircraft regularly approach the East China Sea archipelago - thought to harbour natural resources - after Japan nationalised some of the islands in September 2012, setting off the latest spate of incidents in the long-running territorial dispute.