TOKYO -- Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu departs Saturday for Beijing to become the first leader of a major industrialized nation to visit China since the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.
Leaving behind the brokerage scandal that has clouded even squeaky- clean Kaifu's future, analysts said Friday the China mission is aimed at easing friction with the likelihood of a joint Tokyo-Beijing statement on disarmament and arms control emerging.
'Our influence on world politics will be limited if we act independently,' said Prof. Shigeaki Uno, a specialist in international politics at Seikei University. 'By cooperating with China, we can enjoy greater status.'
Kaifu will also offer $949.9 million in loans when he meets with Chinese Premier Li Peng Saturday during his five-day official visit to China and Mongolia, officials said.
Kaifu's departure coincided with mounting attacks on his government amid the special session of Japan's Parliament probing the scandal- plagued securities industry.
Finance Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto has indicated he is considering resigning after his ministry finishes work on measures to prevent the recurrence of the scandal in which 17 brokerage firms paid more than $1 billion in compensation to favored clients for investment losses between October 1987 and March 1990.
While Kaifu has deplored revelations that have stunned the country almost daily and pledged to submit tough new legislation, Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, a senior official of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, became the first to suggest Kaifu may have to share responsibility if Hashimoto resigns.
The outcome of the two-month session of Parliament is considered crucial to Kaifu's chances of serving another two years in office when his term expires in October.
Against this backdrop, Kaifu's China trip has been billed as a fence- mending mission expected to return relations between the two countries to normalcy.
Japan joined other Western nations in slapping political and economic sanctions on China after the violent crackdown on the democracy movement two years ago, but took the lead last November in abandoning a freeze on economic assistance and loan packages.
Prior to Kaifu's departure, Chief Cabinet Secretary Misoji Sakamoto cited China's stance on human rights since the 1989 crackdown.
'China has slowly been improving its human rights record,' Sakamoto said. 'We'd like China to expand its friendly relations with more countries so that China is better understood.'
Kaifu's visit is the first by a Japanese premier since Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita went to Beijing in 1988.
Another sign of warming relations came when Beijing recently extended an invitation to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to visit next year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic relations.
Analysts held out the possibility the Kaifu trip will enhance Japan's posture.
Government officials said Kaifu will urge Chinese leaders to sign a joint statement on disarmament and arms control and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. They also hope China, a leading arms exporter, will support the creation of a U.N. register on conventional arms transfers.
If Kaifu succeeds in obtaining the statement, treaty and backing for the register, a government official said it would be the first time China makes 'an international declaration about its responsibilities to disarmament and arms control.'
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Kaifu will also push for greater democratization in China for the 'new relationship' between Tokyo and Beijing to flourish.
On the 46th anniversary of the United States' dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima Tuesday, Kaifu praised China for participating in a U. N. conference in Paris last month that focused on cutting the flow of arms to the Middle East.
In addition to the $948.9 million in loans Kaifu intends to offer, officials said another $14.8 million will be offered for Mongolia. Kaifu also plans to give $1.5 million in emergency aid following flood damage in southern China during June and July.
Although Kaifu will remind China of Japan's policy of linking economic assistance to arms expenditure restraints, ministry officials said there would be no immediate conditions applied to Beijing.
'We do not operate in such a drastic way,' one official said.