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Prime Minister Abe speaks at the Future of Asia dinner reception in Tokyo on June 5.(Photo by Rie Ishii)

Abe's Belt and Road pivot signals push to improve bilateral ties

Precarious Asian security calls for compromise between neighbors

NAOYA YOSHINO, Nikkei deputy editor | China

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conditional support for China's Belt and Road infrastructure plan tells Beijing that Tokyo is ready to work toward warmer bilateral ties as the future of Asian security grows more uncertain.

Abe praised the initiative's "potential to connect East and West" in a speech Monday, saying Japan is "ready to extend cooperation" on the plan to build an Asian economic sphere through new infrastructure, provided that China ensures projects are developed in a fair and transparent manner. From Beijing's perspective, this is a marked shift from Tokyo's previous policy of making demands on the plan without expressing any support in return, which had led Chinese officials to believe Abe's government took an entirely negative view of it.

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