TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he was keen to hold a dialogue with the leaders of China and South Korea to explain his recent visit to Yasukuni war shrine that infuriated the two countries.
"There should be no preconditions, but leaders should be frank and have talks. I hope China and South Korea will take the same position," Mr Abe said on Monday at a New Year news conference after visiting the sacred Ise Shrine in Mie prefecture, western Japan,
"Seeking dialogue with China and South Korea is extremely important for the peace and security of this region... the door for dialogue is open," he said.
Mr Abe infuriated Beijing and Seoul with a surprise visit to the controversial Yasukuni war Shrine in central Tokyo on Dec 26, the first by a premier in seven years.
The visit came as Japan's ties with China have worsened in the past year over their conflicting claims over an island cluster in the East China Sea.
Japan and South Korea are also locked in a territorial dispute, with ties also soured by wartime sexual slaves, forced labour and other historical issues.
In her New Year news conference in Seoul on Monday, South Korean President Park Geun Nye expressed regret over Japan's denial of past history and ruled out any summit with Mr Abe.