NHK reported this morning that Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua will be replaced and return to China in early May. The diplomat has been in the position for nine years, longer than any of his predecessors. The GOJ has already been informed of the Chinese government’s decision to appoint a new envoy. The broadcaster said that as a seasoned Japan hand with an excellent command of Japanese and solid connections with influential Japanese political and business leaders, the Chinese envoy has been instrumental in mending bilateral ties that deteriorated following the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands in 2012. As Sino-Japanese relations have improved rapidly in the past year as evidenced by Chinese Premier Li’s trip to Japan and Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Beijing, the Chinese government reportedly feels this is a good opportunity to replace Cheng.