British Ambassador to Japan Tim Hitchens has warned against moves that damage stability in Asia, apparently concerned about tensions between Japan and neighboring nations such as China.
The British government “would be worried by actions which heightened regional instability,” Hitchens said in a conference hosted Monday by the Research Institute of Japan, a Jiji Press affiliate.
Even if Japan cannot build perfect relations with its neighbors right away, the country should lay the groundwork for a good opportunity, the British diplomat said, calling for mechanisms to nurture trust between Japan and its neighbors.
He went on to stress the importance of holding meetings of leaders of Asian countries, as well as increasing private-sector exchanges.
Hitchens indirectly asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not to visit war-related Yasukuni Shrine again. The ambassador called for a careful approach on the issue, pointing to the need for cooperation with Japan’s allies, such as the United States.
On history issues, following criticism of Japan by China and South Korea, Hitchens said, “The best way to redeem our past mistakes is to acknowledge mistakes made, be active in helping to build a better future” with both old and new friends.
The ambassador hinted at support for Abe’s efforts on lifting Japan’s ban on the use of collective self-defense rights. European and North American countries “have, for almost 70 years, operated within collective security structures,” he said. “It is difficult for us to imagine not doing so.”
Cyberthreat from China
China’s military has a cyberattack unit that specializes in targeting Japan, according to Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer at U.S. information security firm Mandiant Corp.
Last February, Mandiant published a report that blamed the People’s Liberation Army’s Shanghai-based Unit 61398 for a series of cyberattacks on U.S. companies.
Following the report, the U.S. and Chinese governments launched a joint working group on cybersecurity.
In a recent interview with Jiji Press, Bejtlich said: “There is one (unit) that goes after Japan. There is one that goes after Russia. There is one that goes after Europe.”