A foreign ministry spokesman dismissed a report that China requested the delay because of a territorial dispute.
“We wanted to have an early summit meeting, but it became difficult for the prime minister to visit in March,” Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said at a press conference in Tokyo. “This is because of circumstances in China, as well as here because of the Diet session. But both sides remain committed to meeting soon.”
China requested a cancellation of the March 27-29 trip because of public outcry over a longstanding dispute over islands in the South China Sea, the Mainichi newspaper said earlier today. Aso last month reiterated Japan’s claim to the islands, prompting a statement of “strong dissatisfaction” from the Chinese government.