Saturday, May 23, 2015Saturday, May 23, 2015

Japan PM Abe says he wants to hold summit with China at Apec meeting in November

Published on Jul 14, 2014 9:11 AM
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waves to the local during a visit to Wewak in Papua New Guinea on July 11, 2014. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that he wants to hold a summit meeting with China at the Apec regional leaders meeting to be held in November in Beijing. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday he wanted to hold a summit with China at the APEC leaders meeting in Beijing in November to improve relations strained by territorial and security issues, but drew a cool response from China.

Abe has been in office since late 2012 and has yet to meet Chinese leaders, despite worsening ties over disputed islands in the East China Sea, China’s declaration of an air defence identification zone in the area and Abe’s visits to a Tokyo shrine seen as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism.

“It is a great pity that we have not been able to have a leaders’ summit,” Abe told a parliamentary committee. “We need to return to the basics of a strategic relationship of mutual respect. I would like to have a summit in Beijing this November at the time of the APEC meeting,” he said, referring to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum annual summit.

China’s Foreign Ministry said it had expressed its view on the issue many times already, though stopped short of outright rejecting the request.

“The Japanese side should take real steps and work hard to banish the political obstacles which affect the development of bilateral ties,” it said in a statement faxed to Reuters.

Abe also touched on the strong economic ties between the two nations and said that their relationship was unbreakable.

“While recognising that even if our ties are strained, they cannot be broken, there will be problems between neighbours. For this very reason we need to maintain a relationship that keeps things under control,” he said, repeating that the door for dialogue with China was always open.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!