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Japan's PM calls for high-level talks with China - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) escort ship "Kurama" leads other vessels during a fleet review in water off Sagami Bay, south of Tokyo, on Sunday, October 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) escort ship “Kurama” leads other vessels during a fleet review in water off Sagami Bay, south of Tokyo, on Sunday, October 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Singapore/London, Reuters/Asharq Al-Awsat—Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on Friday for a leaders’ summit or a foreign ministers’ meeting between his country and China as soon as possible.

Ties between China and Japan have been strained by a territorial dispute over uninhabited East China Sea islets.
Citing the importance of relations between Asia’s two biggest economies, he said the talks should not have any preconditions.

Abe made the comments during a visit to Singapore and in answer to questions at an academic forum.

The remarks came two days after Japan scrambled fighter jets in response to a Chinese military aircraft flying for the first time through international airspace near its southern islands out over the Pacific.

The call comes on the same day that the Japanese government released a paper calling for increased focus on its military. A final version of the report will not be released until later this year.

According to the Associated Press, the paper released by the interim defense minister called for increased drone surveillance capability, as well as creating a marine force to defend the islands it is disputing with China.

Since the election, Japan has scrambled fighter jets to monitor Chinese military planes flying over international waters near the disputed islands.

China appears to be growing increasingly wary of its eastern neighbor after Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s coalition secured a landslide victory in this week’s elections for the upper house of the Diet. Comment from the Global Times, a typically nationalistic Chinese newspaper, dismissed Abe’s calls for cooperation with the Chinese government as “nothing but cliché.”

Japan has a pacifist constitution that restricts its military operations to national defense and prevents it from engaging in combat overseas.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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