Abe: Japan, China and S.Korea must have 'forward-looking' ties
Updated: 2006-10-02 15:05

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that Japan, China and South Korea must have forward-looking relations.

His comment came as Japan tries to arrange a trip by Abe for summit meetings in China and South Korea as early as this weekend to mend ties with the two-Asian neighbors.

"I plan to develop forward-looking relations with our important neighbors China and South Korea, by building mutual understanding through dialogue and cooperation in every possible level and area," Abe said.

Abe was expected to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao on October 8, and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on October 9, according to Japanese media.

Earlier Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said he favored that Abe's visits to Beijing and Seoul would be during a single trip abroad, but refused to confirm news reports that Abe's tour would come as early as this weekend.

"I think it will be favorable if we can carry out (the summit) in one trip," Shiozaki told reporters, refusing to disclose a schedule.

Abe was elected prime minister last week and vowed that improving ties with China and South Korea would be a priority.

Ties between Japan and its neighbors have been strained because of disputes over territorial claims to several small islands and over the repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi.

Yasukuni officials actively promote views defending Japan's past militarism and honor executed war criminals from World War II.

Critics say that visits by Japanese leaders reflect their lack of remorse over Japan 's wartime aggression. Koizumi most recently visited the shrine on August 15 _ the anniversary of Tokyo's WWII defeat _ renewing regional anger toward Japan.

China had rejected a meeting with Koizumi since last year, and has reportedly sought a pledge from Abe not to visit the shrine as a condition to holding a summit. But Shiozaki refused to say whether Tokyo made any concessions.

"The Japanese side is wide open. We're trying to overcome political difficulties to improve relations between the two countries," he said.


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