TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s next Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to send senior ruling party member Masahiko Koumura as an envoy to China as early as next month in a bid to repair ties between Asia’s two largest economies, the Nikkei business daily said.
Abe, a hardliner who has questioned claims by China and others that Japan’s army forced woman from occupied territories into prostitution during World War II, wants to bolster relations with his nation’s biggest neighbor after anti-Japanese protests there this year, the paper reported, without saying where it obtained the information.
Komura will carry a letter from Abe for China’s leaders, the Nikkei said. Komura is a former foreign minister who served as Abe’s defense minister during his first administration in 2007. As head of the Japan-China Friendship Paliamentarians’ Union, the lawmaker is known for his strong ties with China.
During campaigning for the general election that returned his Liberal Democratic Party to power after three years, Abe pledged to take a tough line with China in the dispute over islands in the East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
A Chinese boycott of Japanese cars, electronic gadgets and other products earlier this year, however, hurt Japanese companies, while violent anti-Japanese protests damaged some businesses.
Abe also plans to send an envoy to South Korea following the election of Park Geun-hye as president, the Nikkei said. Ties with South Korea have been strained over a separate territorial dispute.
Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani