Tokyo:An interpreter for a series of delicate Japan-China meetings hopes to use his language skills as a bridge between the two countries, at a time when bilateral relations remain tense amid a territorial dispute and conflicting views of wartime history.
In April 2012, Yuki Izumikawa, 35, an official of the Association for the Promotion of International Trade, was appointed to work as interpreter in a meeting between the association`s chairman, Yohei Kono, and then Vice Chinese President Xi Jinping.
It was shortly after then Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara announced plans by the Tokyo metropolitan government to purchase the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, to underline Japan`s sovereignty over the disputed territory.
The uninhabited, Japanese-controlled islands are claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.
he Japanese government eventually purchased a major part of the Senkakus in September 2012 from a private Japanese owner.
"I was so worried -- what if the issue gets even more complicated as a result of my interpretation. I was so nervous and made a number of trips to bathroom," Izumikawa said.
In another meeting between Kono and then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Izumikawa paid careful attention to his way of speaking and the timing when conveying Tokyo`s gratitude for Beijing`s support for the victims of the disaster.
Looking back on his childhood, Izumikawa described himself as a boy who did things in his own way at his own pace, tending to become absorbed in one thing once he began to find it interesting.
At university, he studied Chinese and became intrigued by the language.
After graduating from university, Izumikawa went to Beijing to study Chinese.