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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 13:25, October 08, 2006
The wise take advantage of opportunity
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Shinzo Abe starts official visit to China on Sunday, October 8, just 13 days after he became the Japanese Prime Minister. This is the first time a Japanese Prime Minister has chosen China as the destination for his first state visit. Shinzo Abe's motivation for this ice-breaking journey, made so quickly after assuming his new position, has drawn the interest of the international community. Japanese media have a tendency analyze events using the "microscope" method, and are talking about "offensive versus defensive strikes". It appears that there are three essential factors that have hastened Shinzo Abe's visit to China.

One motivating factor is the opportunity to take advantage of the differences in different people. Both Shinzo Abe and former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi belong to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and are part of the Mori Faction. They basically hold the same policy views. They are also very different. Koizumi was rebuffed three times before he was elected President of the LDP whereas Abe was elected the first time he ran. Koizumi has indulged in self-admiration and made decisions on his own, whereas Abe has developed good team spirit and listens to other people. Abe accepts the suggestion of his senior advisor �C to seize the opportunity to fulfill promises to improve Asian diplomacy. This will not only banish Koizumi's negative legacy and re-establish Japan's solid international reputation, but also silence attacks from the domestic political opposition.

It appears now that Abe's new position has given him cause to rethink his stance on a number of issues. Abe was once an active supporter of Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. As it became clear he stood to become Japan's next Prime Minister, he refused to take a stand on the issue, saying only that he did not wish visits to the Shrine to be made a political and diplomatic issue. In the past, Abe reacted strongly to the Murayama statement (a statement of regret issued by former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II) and the comfort women issue. Since becoming Prime Minister, Abe has said explicitly that Japan should inherit the spirit of Kono Yohei's speech on the Murayama statement and the comfort women issue. Abe has not changed his stance at all. He has to "keep his thoughts in harmony with his position". Abe, unlike Koizumi, gives national interests priority over his personal feelings.

Abe pledged to improve Asian diplomacy and promised that his first state visit would be to an Asian country, both before and after being elected Prime Minister of Japan. Abe was directed by the appeals of the Japanese people, the hints of US politicians and the expectations of the international community. China is of course paying close attention to what is happening in Japan. China's forefathers said that "the wise are good at taking advantage of opportunity". China seeks to strengthen Sino-Japanese friendships to cooperate on peace and development in the Asian region, and to build a harmonious Asia and a harmonious world. Prime Minister Abe's visit to China has been agreed on by both the leaders of China and Japan, creating the opportunity for a new, mutually beneficial era of cooperation.

By People's Daily Online

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