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Abe continues gambit denying row exists over Senkakus

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated Japan’s stance Friday that there is no territorial dispute with China that needs to be resolved, a comment likely to trigger further anger in Beijing.

“No territorial problem exists between (Japan) and China that needs to be resolved nor a problem that needs to be shelved,” Abe told the Upper House.

He also said posting public officials in the disputed Senkaku Islands would be one option to ensure stable management of the territory and surrounding waters.

“Historic records show that the Senkakus belong to Japan, and international law also acknowledges it. We will protect our territory,” Abe said in response to a question from Kenichi Mizuno of Your Party.

But Abe also vowed to mend badly frayed ties with China.

Mizuno was asking about the Liberal Democratic Party’s campaign pledge to send government employees to the islets, called Diaoyu in Chinese, to shore up Japan’s control.

On the official government statement on wartime aggression issued by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995, Abe said he plans to issue a fresh “future-oriented” statement.

Murayama made an official apology that said Japan’s colonial rule caused tremendous damage and suffering to people in many countries, particularly in Asia. Abe did not elaborate of how or when he may issue a new statement, but a watered down version would trigger anger in other parts of Asia.

Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima charged that Abe is intending to revise the statement as well as change the Self-Defense Law.

“Revising earlier official statements would cause grave concerns among other countries, including the U.S. Such reviews are not necessary,” Fukushima said.

Last week, Abe dispatched New Komeito President Natsuo Yamaguchi to China, where he met with President-in-waiting Xi Jinping.

“Japan-China interaction including at the political level is beneficial for improving the relationship” and bilateral relations should be tackled from a broad perspective, Abe said.

Collective self-defense

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to convene the first meeting of a panel Feb. 8 to consider lifting Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense, a senior official said Friday.

Abe will attend the meeting, which will consist of members of a panel that existed during his 2006-2007 stint as prime minister to study the right.

Under the current interpretation of the Constitution, Japan does not permit itself to exercise the right because doing so would go beyond self-defense.