Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday criticised China for shutting "all the doors" to dialogue because of the countries' territorial disputes, as he joined other party leaders in a debate a day before campaigning starts for a July 21 parliamentary election.
"It is wrong to shut all the doors just because a problem occurred. It is wrong to reject summit talks because the other party gets on one's nerve, or doesn't accept a demand," Abe said.
The ongoing diplomatic row between Japan and China over the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which Japan calls the Senkakus, has been a flashpoint of contention.
Japan and other Asian countries that also have territorial disputes with China would work together to keep order in the region "by rules of law", Abe said.
Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, the New Komeito Party, are expected to gain a majority in the less powerful upper house in the election.
Amid growing concerns about the diplomatic impact of his nationalistic views, Abe was cautious on historical issues. He said Japanese - including politicians - had a right to pray at Tokyo's Yasukuni war shrine, but refused to say whether he will visit the site on August 15 to mark the end of second world war and pray for the 2.3 million war dead, including convicted wartime leaders, remembered there.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Japan's politicians should face up to the country's past aggression to avoid souring relations with other Asian countries.
Meanwhile, Japan said it had voiced "serious concern" to China at the construction near a disputed and potentially rich gasfield in the East China Sea of a drilling platform 26 kilometres on the Chinese side of the median line between the two countries.
Hua said China was developing waters under its own administration and therefore could not be criticised for its activities.
Associated Press, Agence France-Presse