Japan's new leader looks to China

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: Japan's parliament elected a new Prime Minister today. His name is Shinzo Abe. First thing he did was choose a team of financial gurus. Their job is keep Japan's now-sizzling economy from fizzling again. He'll also try to patch up relations with a big trading partner: China. That could be good news for the U.S. Jocelyn Ford reports.


JOCELYN FORD: Outgoing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi alienated China. He repeatedly visited the Yasukuni Shrine where Japan's World War II war dead, including war criminals, are worshipped.

The top leaders of the two Asian powers haven't had a full summit in five years.

Prime Minister Abe has put a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao high on his agenda.

Professor Jeffrey Kingston of Temple University says Abe is in a good position to improve relations.

JEFFREY KINGSTON: "Abe, who's a hawk, he'll never be seen as sort of selling nation out or kowtowing. So he is one of the politicians who can actually do this without facing much of a domestic political fallout. "

If Abe succeeds at improving ties, Washington will applaud.

KINGSTON: "This will be welcome in Washington because Washington is eager to cultivate china as a stakeholder in the international system."

And there was concern that Japan's antagonism toward China was getting in the way.

In Beijing, I'm Jocelyn Ford for Marketplace.

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