Mon, Sep 25, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Abe adviser confident of improving China-Japan ties

AP , TOKYO

The policy chief of Japan's ruling party and soon-to-be prime minister Shinzo Abe's right hand man said yesterday that he is confident of mending the country's ties with China.

"Relations will definitely begin to improve," Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Hidenao Nakagawa, considered one of Abe's key advisers, said on a talk show aired by public broadcaster NHK.

The Abe administration would "do its best" to hold a summit meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) soon, Nakagawa said, but declined to confirm recent news reports the two leaders may meet on the sidelines of a regional forum in Vietnam in November.

He added, "it's important both sides make an effort. It's not a matter of Japan compromising on all fronts."

Relations between the two countries have been strained over outgoing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated pilgrimages to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine, which has strong links to Japan's past militarism.

Chinese leaders have refused to meet Koizumi since last year, plunging relations to their lowest in decades. The neighbors are also at odds over territory and undersea oil and gas deposits.

Skeptics have voiced concern over whether Abe, who has also worshipped at Yasukuni and champions a more assertive foreign policy, can reverse that trend. The shrine honors executed war criminals among millions of war dead.

China, which suffered under Tokyo's rampage through Asia in the 1930s and 1940s, feel Japanese leaders never fully atoned for the country's military invasions and is particularly sensitive to any signs of a military resurgence in the country.

Nakagawa insisted that Abe was mindful of the region's sensibilities.

"He recognizes that Japan brought great suffering to many countries ... and that Japan is built on remorse over its actions," Nakagawa said.

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