Japan's new ambassador to China upbeat on improving ties between countries

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 06:12 hrs

Japan's new ambassador to China Masato Kitera has said Tokyo will continue to make steady diplomatic efforts to improve relations with Beijing.

Kitera, who will begin duties in Beijing later this month, said that bilateral relations were now very difficult mainly because of the ongoing dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

"I hope to explain that improving economic relations can bring benefits to each nation and its people," Kitera said.

"I plan to support a variety of exchanges, including cultural and academic activities," he added.

According to the Japan Times, Kitera said that it is very disappointing to see public sentiment on both sides deteriorating.

He said that he wanted people to recognize that building friendly ties is good for both sides.

On Japan's nationalization of three of the five Senkaku islands that fueled tensions in September, Kitera said the change in ownership was intended to pave the way for managing them in a peaceful and stable manner in the long term, the report said.

"The change in ownership should not have caused a problem in relations with China," Kitera said, adding: "Japan gave China sufficient explanations ahead of the purchase".

"In principle, I believe China will promote friendly relations with its neighbors. In such an environment, I hope Japan and China will be able to find the desirable exit from strained relations," he said after he was asked if China's change in leadership offers a chance to improve relations.

Referring to Japan's Dec. 16 general election, Kitera said that no matter how the next Cabinet turns out, diplomatic policies towards China will involve people across the spectrum.

"I expect measures to overcome the situation will emerge from such efforts," he added. (ANI)

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