Japan's PM calls for high-level talks with China

SINGAPORE Fri Jul 26, 2013 7:05am EDT

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures as he delivers a speech at a seminar in Tokyo June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures as he delivers a speech at a seminar in Tokyo June 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on Friday for a leaders' summit or a foreign ministers' meeting between his country and China as soon as possible, drawing a cool reaction from Beijing which accused Japan of lacking sincerity.

Sino-Japanese ties, often fragile, have been seriously strained since September when a territorial row over tiny islands in the East China Sea flared. Concerns that the conservative Japanese leader wants to recast Japan's wartime history with a less apologetic tone have added to the tensions.

"I think there should be a summit meeting and also a foreign ministers meeting as soon as possible ... I think such meetings should be held without pre-conditions," Abe said in response to a question at an academic conference in Singapore, the second stop on a trip that includes Malaysia and the Philippines.

China's Foreign Ministry said its door was always open for talks, but that the problem lay in Japan's attitude.

"The crux of the matter at present is Japan's unwillingness to face up to the serious problems which exist in Sino-Japan relations and it is avoiding having earnest talks and consultations with China," the ministry said in a faxed statement to Reuters.

Japan, it said, should "stop using empty slogans about so-called dialogue to gloss over disagreements".

Earlier on Friday, the defense ministry in Tokyo issued a policy report repeating Japanese concerns about China's military build-up and its activities near the islands.

China's Foreign Ministry said it hoped Japan would respect the concerns of neighboring countries and "take the path of peaceful development and not artificially create and exaggerate tensions".

In his remarks, Abe also said that ties between Asia's two biggest economies were vital. Both, he said, benefitted from strong economic ties.

Abe made his comments two days after Japan scrambled fighter jets in response to a Chinese military aircraft flying for the first time through international airspace near its southern islands out over the Pacific.

Abe returned to office last December and cemented his grip on power in election to parliament's upper house last weekend. Attention has been focused on how he would now deal with thorny problems such as frayed ties with China and South Korea and how he would flesh out plans to revive Japan's stagnant economy.

BEING "AT EASE"

The Japanese leader has taken a tough line in the territorial dispute and on Friday repeated in a speech - without singling out Beijing - that it was not "coercive force" that would guide Asia.

But in his address to the conference, he added: "I am looking forward to the day when I can have amicable discussions with the leaders of China, an important neighboring country for Japan in ... (a) spirit of being at ease with each other."

Tensions rose last year after Japan nationalized the islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku and as the Diaoyu in China.

Chinese and Japanese ships and aircraft have been playing a cat-and-mouse game near the isles, raising worries about an accidental clash that could escalate.

The United States has affirmed that the islands are included in its commitment under a U.S.-Japan security treaty.

But after Abe met U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, who was also visiting Singapore, it restated its wish for tensions to subside.

"On regional security affairs, the vice-president reaffirmed the U.S. position on the East China Sea, including our alliance commitments, and highlighted the U.S. view that all sides should take steps to reduce tensions," the White House said in a statement after the meeting.

On Friday, four ships from China's newly formed civilian coast guard entered what Japan considers its territorial waters near the islands but left the area later without incident.

Abe served a brief and troubled term as premier from 2006-2007, during which one of his major accomplishments was to improve badly frayed ties with China.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Lim and by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Writing by Linda Sieg in Tokyo)

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Comments (6)
ALALAYIIIAAAA wrote:
go china!

Jul 26, 2013 6:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Here are some facts which people in China are prevented from learning.
The Japan Official Development Assistance (ODA) to China from 1979 to
2005 is:
1. Approximately 3,1331 Trillion Yen in loan aid.
2. 145.7 Billion Yen in grant aid.
3. 144.6 Billion Yen in technical cooperation.

In addition to the above all of the private Japanese companies who have
established companies in China and through employment now support thousands of Chinese families.

For additional information please see:
www.chinaperspectives.revues.org/358
Japan’s Changing ODA Policy Towards China.

Jul 26, 2013 8:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
hongkiejj wrote:
below are the facts as well.

The Japan Official Development Assistance (ODA) to China from 1979 to
2005 is:
1. Approximately 3,1331 Trillion Yen in loan aid. Thank you.
2. 145.7 Billion Yen in grant aid. thank you
3. 144.6 Billion Yen in technical cooperation. thank you.
lets not be mistaken because of japan generous assistance, china has benefited. That is a fact and likewise, japan has also benefit as well. That is also a fact.

the main argument is the failure to sincerely acknowledge the vicious WW2. yes japan has apologize probably dozens of time but with each apology, there is another visit to yasukini shrine and lack of sincerity.

In addition to the above all of the private Japanese companies who have
established companies in China and through employment now support thousands of Chinese families.
” there is profit to be made here in China. the goal of setting up business or factories or sell in china is to make money. labour is abundant and cheap and the market is potentially huge. therefore, spare me the thought of supporting Chinese families theory. it does not matter where you set up your business. you still need local workers and the reason why China is simply it is just too big to ignore.
the bottom line is profit. it is not one way street.

Jul 26, 2013 9:27am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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