The visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China signals an attempt to maintain his nation's position as a leading player in Asia, political observers said yesterday.
Less than a month since he took office on Sept. 23, Abe met Chinese President Hu Jintao (
Abe's visit to China was also the first summit between Tokyo and Beijing since former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi met former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (
But political analysts expressed caution about the speed and extent to which the two nations would be able to repair their long-strained relations after the leaders' meetings.
Tung Li-wen (
"Abe and Hu, seem to be intent on improving relations between China and Japan, on the basis of their own national interests," Tung said.
"Even the US noticed the increasing tension of the two countries' relations and urged Abe to work to improve the situation," he said.
Tung said that what the two countries really wanted was not to solve their differences but to resurrect mutual interests submerged in recent years due to the deteriorating relationship between the two nations.
Lo Chih-cheng (
"But I think there could be no substantial progress between Japan and China from a single meeting that did not touch on concrete issues that have been affecting relations between the two countries," Lo said.
He was referring to issues such as whether Abe would follow in the footsteps of predecessor Junichiro Koizumi by visiting Yasukuni shrine, Tokyo's long-standing territorial claims on the Diaoyu Islands (
Lo also pointed out that he did not think Taiwan would become an issue in relations between China and Japan since "they have enough complicated problems to solve."
"Neither Beijing nor Tokyo want to ruin the cordial atmosphere," Lo said.
Taiwan does not have to worry that it will be sacrificed in the two powers' interactions, Lo said.
"Taiwan and Japan share common ground on democracy and in terms of facing China's rising power," he said.
"As long as Taiwan maintains its amicable relations with Japan, an improved relationship between China and Japan will not affect Taiwan-Japan ties too much. Both countries have similar social and political structures," Lo said.