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Chinese Defense Minister in Japan to Mend Ties


China's defense minister is visiting Japan in the hopes of easing the countries' strained relations. It is the first such visit in nearly a decade.

Cao Gangchuan arrived in Tokyo Wednesday for talks with Japan's newly appointed defense minister, Masahiko Komura.

Japanese media say the officials may discuss installing a defense hotline between the nations.

The countries have mutual suspicions about the other's military ambitions. Beijing's rapidly growing defense budget has raised concerns in Japan and the United States. And China has criticized Japan for its participation in a U.S.-led ballistic missile shield in the region.

A Chinese defense minister last visited Japan in February 1998, before the countries' relations soured under former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Mr. Koizumi outraged China by regularly visiting a war shrine that Beijing says glorifies Japan's military atrocities.
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