A senior adviser to Japan's presumptive next prime minister, Shinzo Abe, vowed Sunday to repair damaged ties with China, saying Tokyo would lobby hard for a summit meeting with Beijing, the first since last year.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe speaks at his first news conference after being elected president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) at the headquarters of the LDP in Tokyo September 20, 2006. [Reuters]
"Relations will definitely begin to improve," Hidenao Nakagawa, the Liberal Democratic Party policy chief and one of Abe's key advisers, said on a talk show broadcast by NHK. "I think we are moving toward a brighter era."
Japan will "do its best" to arrange a meeting between Abe and President Hu Jintao of China, Nakagawa said, but he added that Tokyo would not give in to all of China's demands.
"It's important both sides make an effort," Nakagawa said later on TV Asahi. "Japan will not compromise on all fronts just to hold talks."
A summit meeting would be a major breakthrough for the two Asian powers, who are at odds politically despite flourishing business ties.
Beijing's anger over repeated visits to a Tokyo war shrine by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has halted top-level meetings for more than a year.
The shrine, which honors executed war criminals among millions of Japanese war dead, has become the target of criticism from China and other nations that believe Japan has not fully atoned for its World War II atrocities.
Nakagawa insisted that Abe would be mindful of the region's sensitivities.
"He recognizes that Japan brought great suffering to many countries and that Japan is built on remorse over its actions," he said.
Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi met with his Chinese counterpart, Dai Bingguo, in Tokyo on Saturday, attempting to resolve other problems that have cooled relations.
The two countries are sparring over territorial and resource issues, different interpretations of history, and Japan's military alliance with the United States.
"There are many unresolved issues, and the talks will continue," Yachi said on Sunday.
Abe won a landslide victory in elections for the governing party's presidency on Wednesday, ensuring that he will become prime minister when Parliament meets on Tuesday.