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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that Japan will not budge on its stance over the sovereignty of the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, but the door is always open for dialogue with China.
"We will not compromise over sovereignty," Abe told a press conference in New York after attending the U.N. General Assembly, but added, "It is not right to shut the door (for dialogue) just because there are challenges. We need to hold talks, including at the summit level."
Tensions between Tokyo and Beijing are high and no summit talks have been held since the Japanese government purchased a major portion of the Senkaku Islands from a Japanese private owner last September. Chinese patrol ships and airplanes have continued to enter areas around the islands, which China claims and calls the Diaoyu.
Asked about the role of Japan's Self-Defense Force, the prime minister reiterated that Japan will seek a proactive role in contributing to global peace and security, and deepen discussions at home on whether to exercise the right of collective self-defense.
His aim of lifting a self-imposed ban on collective self-defense by changing the current interpretation of the Constitution has drawn criticism from China and South Korea.
"Our handling of the Syria and Iranian issues is part of our drive to pursue a proactive pacifism," Abe said, calling again on Iran to "take concrete action, dispel the concerns of the international community, and regain trust" in its nuclear program.
"Japan will make contributions to a peaceful resolution of the issue based on our relations that have traditionally been amicable," Abe said.
On the sidelines of the General Assembly, Abe met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for talks and urged him to show flexibility in resolving the nuclear issue.
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