'Hawkish' incoming Japanese PM tries to ease international concerns on relations with China
Shinzo Abe, who is the incoming Japanese prime minister, has tried to ease international concerns over his hawkish stance a day after his Liberal Democratic Party won an overwhelming victory in the Lower House election.
Responding to a question from a reporter of China's official Xinhua news agency at a news conference, Abe described Sino-Japanese relations as 'one of the most important bilateral relationships'.
He even pledged to make efforts to improve bilateral ties that have been under severe strain.
"China is an indispensable country for the Japanese economy to keep growing," Abe said at his first press briefing after winning elections.
"We need to use some wisdom so that political problems will not develop and affect economic issues," Abe said.
According to the Japan Times, earlier in the same news conference, Abe was asked if, as prime minister, he will visit Tokyo's war-related Yasukuni Shrine and station government workers on the disputed Senkaku Islands, as he had proposed during the LDP's election campaign.
But he did not answer those questions specifically, except to generalize that it is important for Japan's leader to pay respects to the war dead at the shrine and defend the nation's territory, the report added.
"The (Senkakus are) the inherent territory of Japan. . . . We own and effectively control them. There is no room for negotiations about that," Abe said.
"Japan must send a strong message to China that assaulting Japanese companies and people in China, as happened during anti-Japanese riots in the fall, clearly violates international rules," he said.
He noted that Japan has made great investments in China, and China has also greatly benefited from them, adding that the bilateral ties constitute a "mutually beneficial strategic relationship."