China expressed hope yesterday that the newly-elected president of Japan's
ruling party will "make sincere efforts" to improve Sino-Japanese relations.
Shinzo Abe, who received an overwhelming 464 votes out of 703, was elected
the 21st chief of the Liberal Democratic Party earlier yesterday.
Newly elected Japanese
ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Shinzo Abe smiles as he
settles into the presidential seat at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo
September 20, 2006. [Reuters]
"We hope the new LDP leader can match his words with action and make sincere
efforts for the improvement of bilateral relations," said Foreign Ministry
spokesman Qin Gang.
Abe who has repeatedly declared that he seeks better ties with China is set
to succeed Junichiro Koizumi as Japan's prime minister next Tuesday, given the
LDP's majority in the House of Representatives which has the final say in the
He has defended Koizumi's pilgrimages to the Yasukuni Shrine, where Japan's
war dead, including World War II criminals are honoured; and refused to say
whether he would visit the shrine as prime minister.
"The key to solving the present difficulties is for the Japanese leader to
make an early resolution on removing the political barrier of the shrine visits,
and bringing bilateral relations back on to the normal track," Qin told a
regular news briefing on Tuesday.
Judging from Abe's political record and his words and actions while serving
as chief cabinet secretary in the cabinet of the outgoing prime minister, it is
hard to expect breakthroughs in the settlement of disputes between the two
nations, said Zheng Donghui, a researcher on Japan at the China Institute of
The son of a foreign minister and grandson of a prime minister, Abe has
positioned himself as a hawkish politician. Pacifists say Abe is a nationalist
who will push for a militarized Japan, while supporters claim he just wants a
stronger foreign policy.
"Anyway, he can't avoid the problem of the Yakusuni Shrine, on which he has
to make a wise political decision if he wants to improve Sino-Japanese
relations," Zheng said.
China has refused to hold a summit with Koizumi because of his repeated
visits to the shrine, seen by China and many other Asian countries as a symbol
of Japan's past militarism.
In fact, Zheng said, it was Koizumi who created the stalemate because of his
obstinate persistence in visiting the shrine.
The Republic of Korea also expressed hope yesterday that its relations with
Japan would improve by the removal of conflicts caused by Japanese leaders'
visits to the shrine.