Japanese envoy in Beijing to talk about disputed islands

BEIJING (AP) - A Japanese envoy has arrived in Beijing for talks aimed at cooling tensions over an island dispute that has raised fears of an armed confrontation.

Chinese media reported Tuesday that Mr Natsuo Yamaguchi was to deliver a letter from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his four-day visit. In Tokyo, he told reporters he hoped his trip would help ease tensions and that consultations were needed to "normalise our relationship."

Mr Yamaguchi heads the New Komeito party, the junior partner in the coalition led by Mr Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Tensions soared after Japan's government bought the uninhabited islands, known in Chinese as Diaoyu and Japanese as Senkaku, from their private owners in September.

Both sides scrambled jet fighters this month in the latest spike in tensions.