Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday he wants to hold a summit with China at the APEC leaders meeting in Beijing in November to improve relations strained by territorial and security issues.
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 defense 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.” 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.
Japan has been locked in a bitter territorial dispute with China over a group of tiny East China Sea islets, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. Ships from both countries frequently shadow each other around the islands, raising fears of a clash. Tensions escalated after China declared its air defence zone in the area in November, a move that also sparked concern from the United States and South Korea.