REGION COUNTING ON JAPAN TO STAND UP TO CHINA, SAYS ABE

REGION COUNTING ON JAPAN TO STAND UP TO CHINA, SAYS ABE

Tokyo - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in an interview published yesterday, said Japan was ready to be more assertive in guarding against what he said might be an attempt by China to use force to attain its diplomatic goals.

But former Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan said any move by Japan to contain China could amount to an attempt to conceal ulterior motives in the region and prove to be "extremely dangerous".

Mr Abe, interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, said he had realised during recent meetings with South-east Asian leaders that the region was looking for leadership from Tokyo in terms of security amid Beijing's more forthright diplomacy.

"There are concerns that China is attempting to change the status quo by force, rather than by rule of law. But if China opts to take that path, then it won't be able to emerge peacefully," he told the newspaper. "So it shouldn't take that path and many nations expect Japan to strongly express that view. "

Relations between Japan and China have deteriorated sharply in the past year, with the main sticking point being conflicting claims to uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, known in Japan as the Senkaku islands and in China as Diaoyu.

Reuters