• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Naoto Kan alluded to the spat with China over the disputed Senkaku Islands in a speech on the opening day of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels.

While he refrained from criticizing Beijing directly, his remarks Monday were an indirect message for Beijing to end its retaliatory steps in the row over the East China Sea islets, such as restricting exports of rare earth minerals. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was in attendance at the meeting.

“To deepen mutually dependent relations between Asia and Europe and achieve growth, it is important for us to mutually abide by common rules in international society including transactions of raw materials and trade,” Kan said.

“Needless to say, it is indispensable for countries and regions concerned to develop relations of trust and build the foundation for peace and stability, while taking responsible actions,” he said.

Japan’s ties with China have been strained since a Chinese fishing boat collided with Japan Coast Guard cutters near the chain of Japanese-held islets in early September.

The trawler’s captain was arrested on suspicion of intentionally ramming the coast guard ships, a move that led to a flurry of retaliatory steps by China including freezing ministerial-level exchanges.

In his speech, Kan said that Japan will play a leading role in addressing a wide range of issues, including the nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran, assistance in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and climate change.

Touching on the upcoming summit of Pacific Rim leaders in Yokohama on Nov. 13 and 14, Kan said, “I will make efforts as chairman so as to bring about concrete outcomes on regional economic integration and regional growth strategy.”

He also said his administration is prioritizing pulling Japan’s economy out of deflation and taking specific steps to create employment.

Kan, Lee talk North

BRUSSELS (Kyodo) Prime Minister Naoto Kan and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak agreed Monday to keep close tabs on North Korea, where Kim Jong Il’s third son, Jong Un, has been brought into the leadership ring and is expected to succeed his father.

Kan and Lee agreed their countries will work closely with the United States in efforts to reopen six-party talks on denuclearizing Pyongyang, a Japanese official said.

During their meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels, Kan and Lee shared the view that a resumption of the stalled denuclearization talks must lead to a resolution and Pyongyang needs to show its commitment to improving the situation through specific action, the official said.

Lee, meanwhile, hailed Kan’s August statement in which he apologized to South Korea for Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, and asked for followup steps.

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