SYDNEY, Australia – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has played down recent tensions with neighbour China, saying the countries were inextricably linked and his door was always open for dialogue.
Tokyo and Beijing have long been at odds over islands in the East China Sea with simmering distrust flaring last week after Japan relaxed restrictions on use of its armed forces in a highly controversial change in military policy. Abe was in Canberra Tuesday where he and counterpart Tony Abbott were to sign an agreement on closer defence ties, a move that could further anger China.
In an interview with The Australian broadsheet, Abe said he was keen to nurture a mutually beneficial relationship with Beijing, while urging China to play a constructive role in regional security. "Japan and China are inextricably linked to each other. It is not uncommon for various unresolved issues to exist between neighbouring countries," he said.
China is a major country which, together with Japan and Australia, has to play a prominent role in ensuring the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. It is my strong expectation China will abide by international norms and play a constructive role in dealing with regional issues.
In accordance with the principle of a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests, I would like to develop relations with China in a way that keeps a broad perspective. "My door is always open for dialogue. I sincerely hope that China takes the same approach," he said.