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Japan’s incoming PM pledges to mend ties with China

| Updated on: Dec 22, 2012

Japan’s incoming premier Shinzo Abe today pledged to seek a thaw in ties with China after a report said that he will send a special envoy on a fence-mending mission to Beijing.

Ties between Japan and China have become increasingly strained over a disputed island chain — the Tokyo-controlled Senkakus, which Beijing calls the Diaoyus — with neither side willing to budge after months of bitter wrangling.

“I want to make efforts to return to the starting point of developing the mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests,” Shinzo Abe told reporters.

“The Japan-China relationship is one of extremely important bilateral ties,” he said.

The comments came after the business daily Nikkei reported Abe will send Masahiko Komura, Vice-President of his Liberal Democratic Party, to deliver a letter to Chinese authorities next month.

They also came a day after China sent ships into territorial waters around the disputed islands, in the first incursion since Japan elected a new government.

“I will shoulder grave responsibility (for Japan’s future),” Abe, who will officially be appointed as Prime Minister on Wednesday, told supporters in his constituency in western Japan earlier today.

“My mission is to bring a breakthrough in the serious situations we face in economy, diplomacy, and education.”

Abe had said yesterday he will dispatch former finance minister Fukushiro Nukaga to deliver a letter to South Korea’s President-elect Park Geun-Hye, who also triumphed in national elections just days ago.

Tokyo is embroiled in a separate row with Seoul over a different set of islets, with tensions flaring up earlier this year after outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak paid a sudden visit to the disputed territory.

“Abe intends to improve frayed ties with South Korea and with China by sending special envoys,” the Nikkei said, without citing sources.

Abe’s sweeping parliamentary victory on Sunday was greeted with caution in Beijing and Seoul, with China saying it was “highly concerned” over Japan’s future direction under the new government.

Published on March 12, 2018

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