Japan PM Abe cites Thatcher reflections on Falklands war

Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:14am EST
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Linda Sieg

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is embroiled in a row with China over tiny islands, on Thursday quoted former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's reflections on the 1982 Falklands war with Argentina to stress the importance of the rule of law at sea.

"Our national interests have been immutable. They lie in making the seas, which are the foundation of our nation's existence, completely open, free and peaceful," Abe said in a wide-ranging policy speech to parliament in which he also urged Japan to seek to become "No.1" as an economic power.

Abe went on to quote a remark from Thatcher's memoirs, reflecting on the Falklands war, in which she said Britain was defending the fundamental principle that international law should prevail over the use of force.

The war over the remote South Atlantic archipelago began when Argentine troops landed on the Falkland islands on April 2, 1982, and ended 74 days later with their surrender. The conflict killed about 650 Argentine and 255 British troops.

Continuing in his own words, Abe said: "The rule of law at sea. I want to appeal to international society that in modern times changes to the status quo by the use of force will justify nothing."

Tokyo's ties with Beijing chilled sharply after the Japanese government last September bought the rocky islands in the East China Sea, which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China, from a private owner, sparking violent protests in China.

A flare-up in tensions in the territorial row has raised fears of an unintended military incident near the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

The United States says the islets fall under a U.S.-Japan security pact, but Washington is keen to avoid a clash in the economically vital region.   Continued...

 
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a meeting with President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev (not in picture) at Abe's official residence in Tokyo February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato