Japanese business leaders prepare first visit to China in over 4 years

The Japan-China Economic Association is preparing to send a delegation of business leaders to China for the first time in more than four years.

Sources tell NHK the delegation hopes to visit Beijing from January 23 to 26 next year.

The group would include the association's leader Shindo Kosei, and Tokura Masakazu, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, known as "Keidanren."

The sources say the delegation hopes to hold talks with the Chinese leadership and senior government officials overseeing the economy.

The association had sent a delegation to China almost every year since 1975, but visits were suspended with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Their last visit was in autumn 2019.

The association is expected to face difficulties in arranging their next visit amid chilly bilateral relations.

Contentious issues include China's sharp reaction to Japan's release into the sea of treated and diluted water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The plant suffered a triple meltdown in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Water used to cool molten reactor fuel has been mixing with rain and groundwater.

The accumulated water is treated to remove most radioactive substances, but still contains tritium.

Before releasing the treated water into the sea, the plant's operator dilutes it to reduce tritium levels to about one-seventh of the World Health Organization's standards for drinking water.