China will be cautiously watching Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after his expected solid victory in tomorrow's general election as Beijing considers whether to resume high-level contacts with Tokyo. That is the assessment of analysts studying the state of ties between the two neighbours that have been marred by tensions over the past two years, and which eased only slightly when President Xi Jinping met Abe at an Apec meeting last month in Beijing. Before the meeting, exchanges between the two countries had been largely confined to city-level governments. Analysts worry that a big win by Abe would encourage him to push harder with his long-held nationalist agenda on diplomacy, especially his policy towards China, in the next four years. Since Abe took office in 2012, Beijing has seen him as a troublemaker over his hawkish views, especially his comments on wartime history. Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan's war dead, including a number of war criminals, late last year further strained ties with China that were already frayed after territorial disputes over Diaoyu Islands, or Senkakus to the Japanese, in the East China Sea. He has publicly pushed for the reinterpretation of his country's pacifist constitution that would allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defence. If approved, that would mark a significant shift in Japan's military stance since the end of the second world war. He has also reportedly suggested revising the Murayama Statement, an official 1995 apology for Japan's wartime invasion of Asian countries, though Abe later denied any such intention. "[Abe's] views on historical issues have been a deep concern to Beijing," said Yang Bojiang, the director of Japanese studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. "The bigger his win, the more unlikely it is that he would give up his right-wing faith," he added. Some experts also pointed to the Japanese domestic audience's views on China, which may take on more weight in bilateral diplomacy after Abe's expected victory. According to a joint survey last summer by China Daily and Japanese non-governmental organisation Genron NPO, 93 per cent of Japanese do not have a good impression of China. But more than 70 per cent of them agreed that the relationship between China and Japan was important, and nearly 50 per cent of the Japanese respondents said diplomatic relations were "not conducted effectively". "Despite his nationalist views, Abe has to consider domestic opinions more, from the general public to businessmen," said Da Zhigang, an expert in Japanese affairs at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences. "That would give more room for flexibility when dealing with conservatives." Abe abruptly dissolved the lower house of parliament on November 21 and called a snap election in a move observers widely believe was an attempt to consolidate his grip on power. The decision was announced days after Abe held his first meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, a tentative sign of improvement in bilateral ties that have been severely strained over territorial and wartime issues. Even though the two sides agreed to resume talks over political, diplomatic and security issues and to prevent escalation of tensions by establishing a crisis-management mechanism to avoid conflict in disputed waters, the chances for a substantial improvement in ties in the near future remain fairly slim. "Bilateral relations would not immediately … deteriorate unless one side takes a step to irritate the other," said Liang Yunxiang, a professor of Japanese studies at Peking University. One immediate issue would be Japan's war past - whether Abe would visit the Yasukuni Shrine again or what he might say during the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war next year. "Any inappropriate behaviour over historical issues might be a direct threat to Sino-Japanese relations," Yang said, "and China will wait and see."