BEIJING : Gesture from Tokyo

In the first visit to Beijing by the leader of a major industrial democracy since China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests, Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu is due to arrive in the capital Saturday.

Japan had joined other industrialized nations in curtailing high-level exchanges with Beijing and froze a massive package of development loans for more than a year. But now Tokyo is taking the lead in urging a resumption of normal economic and political ties with China.

Kaifu will travel on to Mongolia after four days in China, marking the first visit by a Japanese prime minister to that landlocked nation.

Mongolia, which has suffered severe economic difficulties as it makes a transition toward political pluralism and a market economy, is hoping for infusions of Japanese aid and investment.