Fujio Cho, the outgoing chairman of Toyota Motor Corp, led a delegation that recently met with the new lineup of Chinese leaders. Cho was with a group of businessmen from the Japan-China Economic Association as they met with newly named Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao to discuss the continued economic exchanges between the two countries even while a territorial dispute is ongoing.
There had been widespread protests over a conflict relating to several islets in the East China Sea that both countries are claiming. The rocky islets, which Japan refers to as Senkaku in Japan and which China has named Diaoyu, are located near rich fishing grounds and may possibly hold enormous oil and gas reserves.
Cho, who is set to leave his position as Toyota chairman this June, told reporters that economic exchanges should be maintained even as there are political problems. He added that he feels both sides are aware of this. Kenji Inaba, a director of the Japanese association, said that Li told the Japanese group that he aims to improve relations with Japan, and that this will serve the basic interest of both countries.
There remains an anti-Japanese sentiment and this affects vital trade and economic relations. The combined January-February sales of Toyota in China declined by 13% compared to the same period the previous year.