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Highest-Ranking Japanese Defense Official Arrives

May 9, 1985

PEKING (AP) _ The highest-ranking Japanese defense official ever to visit Communist China arrived today for a week-long tour designed to broaden military relations between the one-time enemies.

Haruo Natsume, Vice Minister of the Japanese Defense Agency, will meet Chinese Defense Minister Zhang Aiping and inspect People’s Liberation Army units in Peking, Tianjin, Xian and Shanghai.

Japanese sources said the possibility of Japanese warships making their first port calls in China may arise in Natsume’s talks.

The first U.S. naval port calls, scheduled for Shanghai this month, appear in jeopardy because of China’s stated demand that the vessels carry no nuclear weapons. Talks are under way this week in Peking to seek a compromise. It is U.S. policy never to discuss whether ships are nuclear-armed.

The Chinese Defense Ministry said it invited Natsume for a ″friendly visit″ and an exchange of views with Chinese army leaders.

Natsume’s four-member delegation was greeted at Peking airport by Xu Xin, Deputy Chief of the PLA General Staff.

In an arrival statement, Natsume said friendly relations between the two countries and armies are in the fundamental interests of the Chinese and Japanese peoples and are good for Asia and the world.

He said he would discuss ″various problems of mutual concern″ with Chinese officials.

Chinese Defense Minister Zhang visited Tokyo for talks last summer on his way home from the United States.

Natsume is the highest-ranked Japanese defense official to visit China since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1972.

The Chinese fought an eight-year war against invading Japanese forces in 1937-45, and when Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone visited Peking in March 1984, he vowed that the two countries will ″never go to war again.″

Japan is now China’s biggest trade partner.

A Defense Agency official in Tokyo said Natsume’s talks will touch on Asian peace and stability, Sino-Soviet relations and the U.S. ″Star Wars″ Strategic Defense Initiative.

Update hourly