[QODLink]
Archive
Japan's Abe meets China's leaders
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, has met China's president and prime minister in Beijing in an attempt to mend ties between the two Asian giants, and also to discuss concerns over
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2006 13:02 GMT
Abe is making his first overseas trip since assuming office
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, has met China's president and prime minister in Beijing in an attempt to mend ties between the two Asian giants, and also to discuss concerns over North Korea's nuclear threat.

On Sunday, Abe, making his first overseas trip since taking office on September 26, held 80 minutes of talks with Hu Jintao, China's president, and a 90-minute meeting with Wen Jiabao, China's premier.

 

A statement released by both sides said Abe had invited China's leaders to Japan, and that the invitation had been accepted.

 

The communique said: "The Japanese side invited the leaders of China to Japan. The Chinese side expressed gratitude for the invitation and agreed on that in general."

 

Abe flies to Seoul on Monday for talks with Roh Moo-hyun, the South Korean president.

 

Opportunity

 

Beijing and Seoul had refused to meet Junichiro Koizumi, Abe's predecessor, because of his pilgrimages to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine, seen by critics as glorifying Japan's past militarism.

 

"The change of government gives an opportunity for both sides to build a new relationship regardless of what has happened up to now," an aide to Abe said in Beijing before the meeting.

 

"The change of government gives an opportunity for both sides to build a new relationship regardless of what has happened up to now"

An aide to the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Abe, 52, is the first Japanese prime minister born after World War II, and is a conservative who wants to restore Japan's sense of national pride. He has defended Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni.

 

Abe has also paid his respects there in the past, and has declined to say whether he will do so again while in office.

 

Mending ties would make it easier for the three countries to address North Korea's announcement that it plans to conduct a nuclear test, an issue certain to be high on the agenda at the two summits.

 

US officials have said that the reclusive state could detonate a device as early as this weekend, possibly on Sunday, the anniversary of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's appointment as head of the national defence commission in 1997.

 

Rewards and risks

 

Abe has laid the groundwork for the summits by softening his public statements on history, although experts warn that the diplomacy can backfire in Beijing and Seoul if he later visits Yasukuni.

 

No one expects the meetings to erase bitter memories of Japan's wartime aggression and colonisation, end mutual mistrust, or settle disputes over territory and energy rights.

 

But Abe is hoping that his summits will win praise from mainstream voters at home, and ease concerns in Washington and elsewhere about regional tensions.

 

Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at the People's University of China in Beijing, said: "Relations are in such a poor state, and Abe wants to score a big diplomatic success to show his new cabinet's strength to the Japanese public."

 

Economic fallout

 

Businessmen worried about economic fallout from poor diplomatic ties have pressed Abe to improve relations with Japan's neighbours.

 

China and South Korea are also keen for better relations with Japan given their vital trade and investment links.

 

Despite domestic engagements,
Hu Jintao  met Abe on Sunday

In a sign of Beijing's eagerness for rapprochement, its leaders met Abe despite Sunday's opening of a key gathering of senior Communist party officials.

 

Abe, Hu and Roh are expected to urge North Korea not to carry out a nuclear test, but behind the scenes they could well differ over how to persuade Pyongyang to hold back.

 

Japan and the US prefer a hard line that would include tightening sanctions in the event of a test, while South Korea and China lean towards negotiation and incentives.

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.