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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chants slogans with his colleagues at a Liberal Democratic Party convention in Tokyo, yesterday.
TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday he hoped to meet the Chinese and South Korean leaders soon to improve relations strained by separate territorial rows.
But his ruling party also pledged the same day to push for changes to Japan’s pacifist constitution — a move likely to stir unease in both the countries, which were among victims of Tokyo’s 20th century militarism.
“I am in the same generation as the two new leaders,” Abe told an annual convention of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping, 59, and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, 61.
The 58-year-old Abe became prime minister in December for a second time when his conservative party secured a landslide election victory, while Tokyo was locked in disputes with Beijing and Seoul over island chains.
“For prosperity and stability in the region, it is necessary for the three of us to build mutual understanding,” Abe told the convention.
“I want to say that Japan’s door is always open toward China,” said Abe, who was previously premier from 2006-2007.
But earlier in the day, the premier urged graduates of the National Defence Academy to guard the country against “provocations”, an apparent reference to the row with Beijing over sovereignty of a Tokyo-controlled island chain.
Chinese ships have routinely circled the Senkaku islands, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus, since Tokyo nationalised some of them in September.
Abe, in his speech to graduates, emphasised that the security situation had changed since they started their course four years ago. “Unlike four years ago... provocations are continuing against our country’s territorial land, sea and air,” he told the graduation ceremony.
The LDP convention adopted a wide-ranging action plan, including efforts to create an “independent constitution” to replace the US-imposed post-war charter which bans the use of force in settling international disputes.AFP