Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday appointed two veteran lawmakers with friendly ties to China for top party posts in an apparent signal that he wants to improve ties with Beijing.
The new faces in Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is part of a broad leadership rejig, including a cabinet reshuffle, which is aimed at strengthening party unity and polishing Abe’s image, Reuters reported.
Abe named outgoing Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki the party’s secretary-general, the LDP’s de facto election campaign chief.
Tanigaki, 69, is from a moderate wing of the LDP that favors better ties with China, according to the news agency.
Toshihiro Nikai, 75, who also has close ties with China, was appointed to a second top party post. Outgoing administrative reform minister Tomomi Inada, 55, a close conservative ally of Abe, was named LDP policy chief.
“He is sending a strong message to China that he wants to improve ties. Not only Tanigaki but Nikai have good ties with China,” said political analyst Atsuo Ito.
Abe has signaled that he hopes to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit in Beijing in November.
“Japan and China both have responsibility for international peace and prosperity,” chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference as China marked the anniversary of its World War II victory over Japan.
“It is vital to develop a forward-looking, cooperative relationship on common issues confronting international society,” Suga was quoted as saying.
– Contact us at [email protected]