World / Asia-Pacific

Abe 'must change' to build ties

By Li Xiaokun and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing and Cai Hong in Tokyo (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-17 03:07

New Japanese leader cannot risk harming economic links: experts

The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan's won an emphatic election victory, but tension with China will continue if party chief Shinzo Abe ditches pragmatism and follows his hawkish campaign rhetoric, experts said.

Immediately after his victory was confirmed, Abe promised improved ties with China at a news conference, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The LDP won a commanding majority — nearly 300 seats in the 480-member lower house — and with its ally the New Komeito Party winning about 30 seats, a government can be easily formed.

Abe 'must change' to build ties
Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) leader and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe smiles, at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo December 16, 2012. LDP surged back to power in an election on Sunday just three years after a devastating defeat, giving Abe a chance to push his hawkish security agenda and radical economic recipe. [Photo/Agencies] 

However, Abe will have to tread carefully as he cannot afford to sacrifice Japan's economic interests in China and may have to pursue a dual policy of being tough on territorial issues while promoting business ties, experts said.

Abe will be Japan's seventh prime minister in six years.

During the campaign, he adopted a harsh tone in his foreign policy statements, especially on relations with China amid tension over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Abe 'must change' to build ties

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who is also the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), bows as he leaves a news conference at his party's election headquarters in Tokyo December 16, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

He vowed to increase defense spending and revitalize a security alliance with the United States that is widely thought to have drifted under current Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's administration.

Abe also wants to loosen the limits of a 1947 pacifist constitution on the military.

The LDP will "learn the lessons of the Democratic Party of Japan", a specialist in Japanese affairs said.

Abe will put US ties at the top of his agenda, and this is why he will travel to Washington early in his new term, said Lu Yaodong, a specialist in Japanese affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The LDP will go further than the Democratic Party of Japan to fan territorial disputes and try to contain China, Lu said.

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