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Shinzo Abe, prime minster of Japan, is scheduled to meet with President Obama on Friday.
The visit is expected to focus on the strategic security alliance between the two nations, which will become more important in the wake of North Korea’s nuclear tests and China and Japan’s increasing tension over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.
Abe, who was elected in December, said US support is “critical’ in Japan’s dispute with China.
He told the Washington Post that China had a “deeply ingrained” need for conflict with countries in Southeast Asia, and accused it of using these territorial disputes as a way to encourage patriotism and support for the ruling party.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China was “astonished” by the report, adding that it was unusual for a nation’s leader to insult its neighbours so openly, Xinhua news agency reports.
This is the second time Abe is occupying the role of prime minister. He was briefly in power in 2006-2007.
Both China and Japan have deployed ships in waters around the contested islands- known as the Diaoyu to the Chinese and the Senkaku to the Japanese. Both nations, as well as Taiwan, stake a claim on the island.
“It is important for us to have them recognise that it is impossible to try to get their way by coercion or intimidation,” Abe said.
Obama’s top Asia advisor, Danny Russel, said on Thursday that the president “remains supportive of the peaceful efforts to find diplomatic resolution to outstanding issues of territorial claims,” AFP reports.
He added that the US had been “clear in the United States’ opposition to coercive actions or unilateral steps that threaten the stability of the region.”
Economic ties are also expected to be on the agenda for the meeting.