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Abe tries to avoid friction with neighbors over history

Nikkei wrote that Prime Minister Abe stressed a forward-looking position at the 71st National Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead on Aug. 15 by saying: “We will carve out a hope-filled future for our nation for the generations of tomorrow.” China and South Korea were unhappy with the appointment of Inada as defense minister because of her conservative positions, and Beijing has sent a warning to Tokyo that bilateral relations would suffer greatly if Inada were to visit Yasukuni. However, Inada traveled to Djibouti on Aug. 15, and this provided her with a pretext for not visiting the shrine. Abe’s recent efforts to avoid friction with Japan’s neighbors over history apparently reflect his desire to solidify his political legacy. However, issues related to the Senkaku Islands and Takeshima could inflame Japanese conservatives, who have reluctantly accepted Abe’s moves to mend fences with neighboring countries. The prime minister will be tested in striking a balance between managing conservative elements at home and relations with neighboring countries.

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