Japanese officials expect push to boost political, military and cultural ties with China The election yesterday of Yasuo Fukuda to replace Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to have a swift impact on Japan's relations with China, North Korea and the rest of the region. Mr Fukuda is keen to make deeper and stronger ties with Japan's neighbours - particularly China - the core of his leadership, which is expected to be confirmed in the Japanese parliament tomorrow. Japanese officials are anticipating a fresh push to boost diplomatic, military and cultural ties with China, extending groundwork laid by Mr Abe in restoring ties with Beijing. 'We expect the push will come from Mr Fukuda in terms of engagement,' said one Japanese official. 'It is going to be a question of how to deepen the meaningful dialogue with China at all levels, while still expressing concerns when we need to.' Mr Fukuda has given strong signals he will seek new initiatives to ease regional tensions over Japan's wartime atrocities. Political and diplomatic insiders in Tokyo expect these to go beyond his public pledge to avoid Tokyo's Yasukuni war shrine. A fresh official apology and a renewed push to build a remembrance site without the baggage of Yasukuni, where 14 'Class-A' war criminals are enshrined, are considered possibilities. Mr Fukuda openly criticised visits to Yasukuni last year by his former boss, then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. Mr Fukuda is also reportedly not keen on Mr Abe's attempt to strengthen ties with regional democracies such as India and Australia while still attempting a new relationship with China. 'China is making efforts towards a free economy, so if we say that they must change their system completely, that would seem to be rejecting them,' he said when asked about Mr Abe's 'broader Asia' policy. China is expected to welcome Mr Fukuda's stance on ending Japan's official pacifist policy - a constitutional change at the core of Mr Abe's platform. He has not ruled it out long term, but has warned that considerable caution is needed. He is determined, however, to allow new laws to make it easier for Japanese troops to be posted overseas as part of international missions. In that regard, one of his first tasks will be to take on opposition plans to block legislation renewing the Japanese navy's mandate in the Indian Ocean to help anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan. He has also urged China to be more transparent about its military spending, saying it had a responsibility to help regional 'understanding'. While the Beijing leadership is expected to formally welcome Mr Fukuda's election, the first detailed hints at its position could come on Thursday, when top Japanese business leaders visit China. Japanese Business Federation chairman Fujio Mitarai and Toyota Motor Corp chairman Fujio Cho - both keen on closer ties - are among the delegation set to meet Premier Wen Jiabao . The relationship with North Korea will also be closely watched. Diplomatic sources have noted that Japan has struggled for influence within the six-nation negotiations to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons programme. Pyongyang has repeatedly bristled at Mr Abe's insistence on including discussions over the fate of Japanese kidnapping victims dating back to the 1970s as part of wider talks, apparently preferring to deal with China and the United States. Mr Fukuda has called for a fresh approach to talks over the abductees issue - a move that could give Japan greater leverage in wider six-nation action. The six countries - China, Japan, the United States, Russia, and North and South Korea - are now implementing a February deal in which North Korea gives up its weapons programme in return for aid and diplomatic normalisation. A further round of talks is due to start on Thursday.