Shinzo Abe will be sending senior members of his Liberal Democratic Party as special envoys to China and South Korea in an attempt to mend diplomatic ties over two separate territorial disputes between the East Asian countries.
Sources said that Abe plans to send senior LDP member Masahiko Koumura as an envoy to China, carrying a letter for the leaders in Beijing. Koumura was a former foreign minister as well as defence minister in 2007 during Abe’s one year term as prime minister. Koumura is also the head of the China-Japan Friendship Parliamentarian’s Union. Abe is expected to become prime minister during a special session of the Diet this week. During his campaign, Abe has said he will try to fix the relationship with China but promised to keep a hard-line stance on the issue of sovereignty over a group of island contested by China, Japan, as well as Taiwan.
In a similar vein, Abe will be sending former finance minister Fukushiro Nukaga to Seoul to deliver a letter to newly elected president Park Geun-Hye. Nukaga is said to have ties with major figures in South Korea, being a senior member of the Japan-South Korea parliamentarians’ league. Both Abe and Park came into power just this month after Japan and South Korea held elections within days of each other. Park is the country’s first woman president. Aside from a current island dispute, relationship between the two countries are also marred by the issue of past war crimes. Abe’s victory was met with caution in South Korea, remembering his statements on Japan’s admission over sex slavery during World War II.