Japan's Abe admits no immediate summit hope with China, South Korea
TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday defended his visit to a controversial war shrine, but admitted there was no immediate prospect of summits with his South Korean and Chinese counterparts.
In his annual new year press conference, the conservative leader said he wished to directly explain to China's President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun Hye why he visited Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japanese war dead including war criminals.
Late last month, Mr Abe sparked harsh criticism from the neighbouring countries for his visit to the shrine, a place seen as a symbol of Japan's war-time aggression in Asia, particularly by China and the two Koreas.
"I believe having dialogue with China and South Korea is extremely important for the peace and stability of the region," Mr Abe said.