Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to fly to China on Sunday in an attempt to mend tattered ties between the Asian giants and discuss North Korea's threats to conduct a nuclear test, a move which Beijing and Tokyo have warned would have serious repercussions.
Abe - elected prime minister just two weeks ago - put the visit to China atop his diplomatic agenda because of a deepening rift over former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a Tokyo war shrine and festering territorial disputes. After meeting with Chinese leaders, Abe is scheduled to fly to South Korea for similar talks on Monday.
It will be the first summit between Japan and China since Koizumi met Jiang Zemin in October 2001 and the first full-fledged state visit, with a formal welcoming ceremony, since 1999. Japan's last summit with South Korea was in June last year.