February 27, 2020 / 9:05 AM / a month ago

Japan says China leader Xi's visit still on despite coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping leaves after a news conference at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, March 29, 2016. REUTERS/David W Cerny

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan said on Thursday that preparations for a rare state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping planned for April were going ahead, even as it called for sports and cultural events to be scaled down to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Things are on track for President Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan, and we are proceeding as usual with preparations,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

“A visit to Japan by the general secretary of China only happens once every 10 years.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi spoke by telephone on Wednesday evening to confirm the visit would go ahead, Japan said.

China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, will make a two-day visit to Japan from Friday, when he is due to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Hugh Lawson

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