China says Japan ties “top priority” after Abe win

BEIJING - Improving relations with Japan was a top priority for China, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday, as new ruling party leader Shinzo Abe was set to be chosen as Japan’s prime minister next week.

By (Reuters)

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Thu 21 Sep 2006, 5:49 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:20 PM

Relations between the Northeast Asian powers plunged to their lowest in decades under outgoing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, but the change in leadership in Japan -- all but assured with Abe’s election on Wednesday as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party -- has raised hopes that their ties can improve.

“It is imperative to eradicate fundamental political obstacles to relations between China and Japan. It is a top priority right now,” Qin Gang said at a regular news conference.

China, which says Japan has failed to adequately atone for its World War Two invasion and occupation of parts of the country, objects to Koizumi’s visits to the Yasukuni shrine, where war criminals are honoured alongside Japan’s war dead.

Asked to assess Koizumi’s diplomacy, Qin said: “Koizumi was prime minister for five years. During his rein, the changes in China-Japan relations can be seen by all.”

Abe, who advocates a more muscular foreign policy for Japan, has not made clear whether he would visit the shrine.

Qin said ties could only improve with a “proper handling of historical issues”, a reference to the shrine visits, adding he would reserve optimism about the future of ties until Abe made clear his intentions on the issue.

The two countries are set to hold a strategic dialogue in Tokyo this weekend, during which Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo will meet his Japanese counterpart Shotaro Yachi.

Qin said he had no information on whether Dai would also meet Abe.

More news from