China’s state media on Tuesday questioned whether Japan’s incoming prime minister sincerely wants to improve ties with Beijing, which have been severely strained by a row over a disputed island chain.
The official Xinhua news agency noted Monday’s remarks by Shinzo Abe that there is “no room for negotiation” over the sovereignty of the Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls the Diaoyus.
Abe led his Liberal Democratic Party to a convincing victory in Sunday’s election after pushing a hawkish line on the island dispute throughout the campaign.
China’s foreign ministry expressed disquiet on Monday at where Abe would lead Japan, saying it was “highly concerned” over the matter, though willing to work with Tokyo for “further development of stable relations”.
Xinhua mentioned both Abe’s stance on the islands and reported comments expressing his regret at his failure to visit the Yasukuni Shrine during his last tenure as premier.
The shrine honours Japanese war criminals among other war dead and visits to it are a sensitive issue in nations overrun by Japan in the last century.
“Such contradictory remarks from the Japanese premier-in-waiting have simply left in question his sincerity in mending ties with China,” Xinhua said.
“At a time when China-Japan relations face grave challenges, Japan’s election should be an opportunity to reset the bilateral relationship,” it added.
“A mature politician would seize the chance to show goodwill and make constructive moves instead of doing the opposite.”