Ex-diplomat expresses concern about Abe's policies on China, S. Korea

Former Deputy Foreign Minister Hitoshi Tanaka, who has disagreed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over his policies toward North Korea, expressed concern Friday about diplomatic policies that incense China and South Korea.

In a lecture at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Tanaka said with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's sweeping victory in last Sunday's upper house election, the government can now "take on" China and South Korea.

But Tanaka said that if the government pursues an overtly nationalistic diplomacy, it may fail to produce positive results.

Tanaka, who now heads the Institute for International Strategy, a Tokyo-based think tank, urged the government to pursue a strategic diplomacy grounded in reality.

He said it will be a strategic goal for the government to engage with China in a constructive manner, and therefore the government should not alienate China.

But regarding the controversial issue of visits by Japanese leaders to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Tanaka also said it is up to the prime minister to decide whether to do so.