Japan has been urged by the Chinese ambassador to Tokyo to use its unique position – as an important US ally and one of China’s major neighbours – to help stabilise relations between Washington and Beijing , a source of deep concern to many Asian countries caught in the middle of the two powers’ intensifying confrontations. Kong Xuanyou described Japan as “one of the most important stakeholders in Sino-US relations” and it “should play a role in stabilising relations between the major powers”, he said during an interview with Fuji TV’s live Prime News. His remarks were also published in Chinese on the embassy’s website on Saturday. “Only with such a stable relationship can China and the United States coexist peacefully and achieve common development.” Kong said Japan should “reflect deeply” on how to manage its ties with other nations, despite its security alliance with Washington. “How to deal with the US should depend on Japan’s own interests. To Japan, its alliance with the US doesn’t mean everything.” He added that, as a major country in the region, Japan was thinking deeply about how to deal with its neighbours and he expressed the hope that Tokyo could “properly manage Japan-US relations based on its own and the common interests of regional countries”. World ‘cannot afford China and US to split the globe’: UN secretary general Many Asian countries, which rely on China for economic prosperity but on the US for security, fear getting caught in the middle as tensions between Beijing and Washington continue to escalate beyond their original trade and technology disputes to new fronts, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet. Under former prime minister Shinzo Abe , Japan sought to maintain a delicate balance by avoiding confrontation with both China, its biggest trading partner, and the US, its most important ally. But the rapport between Beijing and Tokyo, built up since 2018, has been complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the resurfacing of old tensions. The pandemic forced Tokyo to suspend the 2020 Summer Olympics – but not before billions of dollars had been poured into the event – while regular Chinese coastguard patrols near disputed islands in the East China Sea prompted complaints from Japan. In a further blow to relations, a planned state visit to Japan by President Xi Jinping – the first by a Chinese leader since 2008 – was also delayed, with no clear rescheduling plans announced. In a move likely to dismay Beijing, Japan’s newly-elected prime minister Yoshihide Suga began his first overseas mission with a visit to Vietnam on Monday, and will travel next to Indonesia – two countries also in dispute with the Chinese government over its extensive claims in the South China Sea. Suga had already drawn a comment from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian in Beijing, who urged Japan to reflect on its commitment to its wartime history after the new prime minister sent a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine, the controversial war-linked shrine in Tokyo which is viewed by China as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. During his television interview on Friday, Kong sought to play down the territorial disputes – the thorniest issue – but said Beijing had no interest in filing a lawsuit with the international court. Instead, he said, the two sides should cooperate through dialogue. “China and Japan have many issues over territorial sovereignty, ocean demarcation and resource development, and many of the questions could not be solved in the short term, so the two sides should strengthen communications and work together to manage crises, avoiding unexpected situations and stirring up public confrontation,” he said. Kong added that Beijing was willing to “make positive responses” on cooperation in areas including marine meteorology, ecology protection, maritime research and rescue and disaster relief.