Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo called on the world to work together to restrain China’s rapid rise and warned that it could trigger a regional conflict with grave economic consequences.
Although Abe did not explicitly mention China, his address was seen as an appeal for international support amid a bitter dispute with Beijing.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, Abe told the world to stand up to bullish China as it grows increasingly assertive in territorial disputes over islands in the East China Sea.
“We must restrain military expansion in Asia . . . which otherwise could go unchecked,” Abe said in a landmark speech at the annual meeting of global business and political leaders.
“If peace and stability were shaken in Asia, the knock-on effect for the entire world would be enormous,” Abe added. “The dividend of growth in Asia must not be wasted on military expansion.”
Abe also stressed Japan “has sworn an oath never again to wage a war.”
Faced with an aggressive China, Japan has made a show of flexing its military muscle as it attempts to free itself from the shackles of pacifism. China and South Korea criticized the move as Japan’s way of discounting its wartime aggressions.
Abe’s recent visit to the Yasukuni war shrine has been the center of contempt, which the two nations said was Japan’s “failure to sincerely repent” for the atrocities it has committed.
Abe defended the visit, saying he was “praying for the souls of the departed” and should be regarded as “something quite natural for a leader of any country in the world.”
The premier also reviewed the progress of his “Abenomics” policy, aimed at ending two decades of deflation. Abe told the world’s business elite that Japan is back and is open for business.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: World Economic Forum/Flickr