A prominent ex-minister and opposition legislator has called on current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to strive for better and more stable relationships with its ally United States and neighbor South Korea. Democratic Party of Japan member Seiji Maehara advised Abe to pursue close ties with both nations despite disagreements on various issues.
Speaking at the Center for American Progress in Washington, Maehara said, “Behind the scenes, we may fiercely argue with each other. But still we should showcase our strong bond to outsiders.” He stressed the importance of “understanding precisely which country would benefit from a worsening of the Japan-US relationship,” in an implicit reference to Asian giant, China. While he refrained from directly attacking Abe, he noted that most leaders from the years 2009-2012, when the DPJ was still in power, did not visit the disputed and controversial Yasukuni Shrine. Abe courted critcism from the international community when he visited the shrine last December, with China and South Korea being the most vocal about their opposition. Maehara also called for improving relations with South Korea, where many oppose the idea of revising Japan’s pacifist Constitution to allow “collective self-defense.” He said, “I believe Prime Minister Abe, as far as he aims at changing the interpretation on collective self-defense, needs to explore every possible way to improve relations with South Korea.”
Meanwhile, Katsuyuki Kawai, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who was also in Washington that time, expressed Abe’s concern on “inaccurate depictions in the US public.” Defending Japan’s premier, he said, “Abe is the prime minister who is most concerned about deepening and strengthening the alliance and he is the only prime minister who will be able to produce concrete results.” He also mentioned Abe’s support to move a US base in Okinawa to a less populous part of the prefecture, despite opposition from the local government.
[via The Sun Daily]
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