Beijing rejects Abe's call for official meeting

Updated: 2014-01-07 00:18

By CAI HONG in Tokyo and ZHANG YUNBI in Beijing (China Daily)

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Beijing and Seoul responded coolly on Monday after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe again requested official meetings with his Chinese and South Korean counterparts.

"Abe has repeatedly claimed that he underscores improving relations with China, but what he said is hypocritical. It was he who closed the door on dialogue," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye also blamed Japan on Monday for strained ties.

After paying a customary New Year's visit to a shrine in the central Japanese city of Ise, Abe told a news conference he hopes for meetings with the leaders of China and South Korea to "explain the intent of my visits to the Yasukuni Shrine directly to them with full sincerity".

"Seeking dialogue with China and South Korea is extremely important for the peace and security of this region," he said.

Observers said Abe is playing with words in trying to justify his controversial pilgrimage to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine.

They said that while offering an olive branch, he has decided to introduce right-wing, revisionist policies, which will make it impossible to hold a leaders' summit.

Abe has also called for public support for his Cabinet's plan to gradually lift constitutional restrictions to facilitate Japan's military buildup this year.

He stoked regional tensions on Dec 26 by visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 top war criminals from World War II.

The shrine is widely viewed as a symbol of Japan's past militarism, and the visit triggered strong protests from China and South Korea and disappointment from the United States.

Qu Xing, president of the China Institute of International Studies, said Beijing has sent a clear message to Abe.

"The message is clear and strong enough. Beijing has ruled out a leaders' summit meeting in the near future. Abe's hypocrisy has been unveiled, and Beijing is very serious in this regard," Qu said.

Yang Bojiang, deputy director of the Institute of Japan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Abe is trying to manipulate media in Japan and outside the country by "kicking the ball back to China and South Korea".

On Monday, Abe stated his resolve to rally more public support for revising Japan's pacifist Constitution.

He said it is necessary to initiate "a deep discussion among the whole Japanese people" about the constitutional revision.

Japan's NHK television on Monday confirmed that the country's ruling coalition will propose a draft in late January for amending a law that defines the threshold for holding a national referendum on a constitutional revision.

Feng Wei, a professor of Japanese studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said, "Although it is impossible for the Cabinet to complete all the legislative procedures for allowing a constitutional revision before the end of 2014, it is possible that the Japanese government will change its interpretation about exercising the right of collective self-defense."

Sun Cheng, a professor of Japanese studies at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, said Japan has mixed feelings about China, and deep economic interdependence cannot override Tokyo's deterrence against China in security fields.

"Tokyo's changing security and foreign policies will bring more complexities and uncertainties to the relationships between China, Japan and the United States," Sun said.

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