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Abe calls for talks with Xi at APEC summit

AFP-JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he is seeking to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a regional meeting in Beijing in November, the latest call from Tokyo for face-to-face talks amid testy diplomatic relations.

Abe pointed to the two nations’ huge trading and business ties, saying they are “inextricably” linked despite the row over the Senkaku Islands and historical grievances largely tied to Japanese militarism in the first half of the 20th century.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum later this year would be a possible venue, Abe said.

“I want to hold summit talks (with Xi) during the APEC meeting in Beijing,” he told a Diet committee, responding to questions about relations with China. “My door is always open for dialogue and I hope the Chinese side adopts the same stance.”

Abe and Xi, both strong nationalists, have not held a bilateral summit since they both came to power more than 18 months ago.

Abe has repeatedly called for a meeting with Xi and also with his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye, since he swept to power in late 2012.

Xi and Park held talks in Seoul earlier this month, while Park visited China last year.

Abe also called for future talks with Xi during a visit to Australia and New Zealand last week, as did his close adviser Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Tokyo and Beijing have long been at odds over territorial claims and Japan’s military record before the end of World War II.

Rising tensions have seen Chinese ships routinely sail into waters near the disputed East China Sea archipelago, while Japan has scrambled fighter jets to ward off intrusions near its airspace.

Relations took another hit again this month after Japan moved to relax restrictions on the use of armed force in a controversial change to its postwar pacifism.

In an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on Sunday, Abe declined to say whether he would visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II.

China was furious over Abe’s December visit to the shrine, which honors some senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes among Japan’s war dead.

Many conservative politicians make an annual pilgrimage to the leafy site in central Tokyo, angering Beijing and Seoul, which say Japan has not faced up to its wartime past.

  • Demosthenes

    Let’s hope common sense prevails if they do talk.