18th Party Congress

Japan wants to improve ties with China's new leaders

Analysts say reset between nations a long way off due to bitter maritime dispute over Diaoyus

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 5:27am

Japan voiced hope for "mutually beneficial" ties with China's new leaders yesterday amid a bitter maritime dispute, but analysts said Beijing's territorial ambitions are unlikely to fade any time soon.

"We really hope that the mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests will be further developed and enhanced with the new leadership" of China, said the foreign ministry's deputy press secretary, Naoko Saiki, in Tokyo.

Japan is embroiled in a territorial spat with Beijing over the Diaoyu, or Senkaku, islands in the East China Sea. Analysts said a reset could be a long way off.

"Even though Xi wants to improve economic ties with Japan - namely 'cool political ties, warm economic ties' - the two countries obviously need a new start in the political arena," said Mitsuyuki Kagami, a China expert at Aichi University.

Norihiro Sasaki, a China expert at the Institute of Developing Economies, said it would be "rational" for Xi to seek something of a new start with Tokyo.

Japan's own imminent political transition - Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is expected today to dissolve parliament for an election on December 16 - could be the key to better ties.

Meanwhile, Xinhua reported that US President Barack Obama wrote to greet Xi, saying he looked forward to working with Xi to continue building a "co-operative partnership" through "practical co-operation on regional and global economic and security challenges".

Beijing feels hemmed in by the US, which is shoring up ties with countries on China's edge. Obama will this weekend begin a Southeast Asia tour that includes the first-ever visits to Myanmar and Cambodia by a sitting US president.

North Korea, which counts China as its only major ally, was swift to respond, with leader Kim Jong-un offering "warm congratulations" to Xi.

North Korea and China are "linked by the same mountain and rivers", Kim was quoted as saying in a message carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, hailing the "common precious wealth" of their deep-rooted and historic friendship.

South Korea's foreign ministry said it hoped relations would continue developing under the new leadership.

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the naming of a new leadership would lead to stronger relations between the countries.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters