Japan ex-PM Murayama visits China amid tensions

Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama is visiting China in the latest effort to use diplomatic backchannels to ease tensions over an island dispute.

Murayama arrived Monday on a four-day visit, during which he plans to discuss disputed East China Sea islands that are controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing. His trip follows similar visits this month by Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of a junior party in the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and former prime minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Like Hatoyama, Murayama is considered friendly to China. Murayama was prime minister in 1995, when delivered a well-received apology for Japan's World War II atrocities in China and elsewhere. It was not clear whether Murayama will meet any Chinese leaders.