China urges Abe to make efforts to improve bilateral ties
Updated: 2006-09-20 20:52

BEIJING -- China hopes the newly-elected President of the Japanese ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Shinzo Abe will suit his actions to his words, and make concrete efforts to improve China-Japan relations, said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang here on Wednesday.

Abe, who received an overwhelming 464 votes out of a total of 703 ballots, was elected the 21st president of the LDP on Wednesday afternoon, and is sure to succeed Junichiro Koizumi as Japan's next prime minister.

He has defended Koizumi's pilgrimages to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan's war dead, including 14 class A Second World War criminals, are honored, and refused to say whether or not he would visit the shrine as prime minister.

The new leaders should make substantial efforts to improve and develop China-Japan relations, Qin stressed.

Sino-Japanese relations have been soured by Koizumi's repeated shrine visits. He has visited the controversial shrine every year since he took office in 2001.

His last visit on August 15 this year, the 61st anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, further damaged relations between Japan and its Asian neighbors, including China and the Republic of Korea.

The Yasukuni Shrine visit has become a sticking point in Sino-Japanese relationship, and directly affects its political foundation, said Liu Jiangyong, professor from the Tsinghua University, adding this will also leave a problem for the new leader.

The Japanese leaders should make a wise political decision under the current situation to enable China-Japan relations to develop in a sound way, Qin said at an earlier regular news conference.

He urged the Japanese side to correctly view and handle the history issue, saying this will help Japan to improve its relations with Asian neighbors as well as its international image.

He also called on the Japanese side to work jointly with China to conquer the current difficulties and make active efforts for the development of bilateral relations.