One of Japanese prime minister-in-waiting Shinzo Abe's closest advisors said Sunday that he was confident the change in leadership would lead to the easing of tensions with China, the South China Morning Post reported. "Relations will definitely begin to improve," Hidenao Nakagawa, policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said. Optimism has been fueled by sub-cabinet talks between the two nations in Tokyo over the weekend at which a summit between Abe and President Hu Jintao was discussed. However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the rumors, simply reiterating Beijing's opposition to top-level exchanges while Japanese leaders continued their "obstinate homage to Yasukuni Shrine". The shrine, which outgoing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has visited several times while in office, honors a number of war criminals among Japan's war dead.
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