The Straits Times
Published on Nov 30, 2012

Tokyo suffers 'diplomatic defeat' in island rows: Abe


TOKYO (AFP) - Mr Shinzo Abe, the front runner to become Japan's next prime minister, on Friday lashed out at the government for what he called a "diplomatic defeat" in territorial rows with its neighbours.

The hawkish Abe, 58, blamed a flare-up in a longstanding spat with Beijing over an East China Sea island chain on Tokyo's weak-kneed diplomacy, along with separate territorial rows with South Korea and Russia.

Mr Abe said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his two predecessors worsened the fight with China over Tokyo-controlled islands known as the Senkakus in Japan, also claimed by Beijing which calls them the Diaoyus.

"Because of the diplomatic defeat, China is challenging (ownership of the) Senkakus," Mr Abe said in a televised debate ahead of a December 16 general election that is widely expected to see Mr Noda defeated.