Head of Japan coalition partner postpones China visit at China's request

Leaders of Japan's main political parties attend a debate session ahead of October 31, 2021 lower house election in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) -The head of Japan's Komeito party, the junior partner in the coalition government, will postpone his planned visit to China at China's request, the party announced on Saturday.

Natsuo Yamaguchi was planning to visit China from Aug. 28-30 in hopes of meeting China's President Xi Jinping and to hand over a personal letter from Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

However, the Chinese side on Saturday informed Komeito that "the timing is not appropriate considering the current situation of Japan-China relations", the party said in a statement.

China's foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Japan on Thursday began releasing treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific despite objections both at home and abroad, including China condemning the move and issuing a ban on all aquatic products from Japan.

Kishida and the leaders of the United States and South Korea also met last week and agreed to deepen military and economic cooperation and made their strongest joint condemnation yet of China's "dangerous and aggressive behaviour" in the South China Sea.

Komeito said in a statement that it hoped "to readjust the appropriate timing of the visit in the future".

The party said the Chinese side had explained that the country sees the importance of Komeito's longstanding friendly exchanges with China and expressed appreciation for Komeito's efforts to realise the visit.

(Reporting by Mariko Katsumura; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan)