TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday called for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a regional meeting in Beijing in November, the latest call from Tokyo for a face-to-face meeting amid testy diplomatic relations.
Abe pointed to the neighbors’ huge trading and business ties, saying they were “inextricably” linked, despite a row over islands in the East China Sea and historical grievances largely tied to Tokyo’s militarism in the first half of the 20th century.
“I want to hold summit talks [with Xi]during the APEC meeting in Beijing,” he said, referring to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economic forum later this year.
“My door is always open for dialogue and I hope the Chinese side adopts the same stance,” Abe added.
Abe and Xi, both strong nationalists, have not held a bilateral summit meeting since they both came to power more than 18 months ago.
The Japanese premier has repeatedly called for a meeting with Xi and also with his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-Hye since he swept to power in late 2012.
During a visit to Australia and New Zealand last week, Abe also called for talks with Xi as did his close adviser Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Tokyo and Beijing have long been at odds over territorial claims and Japan’s military record before the end of the World War II.
Rising tensions have seen Chinese ships routinely sail into waters near the disputed East China Sea archipelago, while Japan has scrambled fighter jets to ward off intrusions near its airspace.
Relations dropped again this month after Japan moved to relax restrictions on the use of armed force in a controversial change to its post-war pacifism.
In an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on Sunday, Abe declined to say whether he would visit a controversial war shrine on the August 15 anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II.
China was furious over Abe’s December visit to the shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including some senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes.
Many conservative politicians make an annual pilgrimage to the leafy site in central Tokyo, angering Beijing and Seoul which say Japan has not faced up to its warring past.