BEIJING — The election victory of Japan's main conservative party, led by a prospective prime minister known for his hardline China views, drew a muted response Monday from Beijing but withering criticism from Chinese bloggers.
After weeks of sparring over contested East China Sea islands and warning about resurgent militarism in Japan, the Chinese Foreign Ministry largely avoided mentioning specific disputes and instead said the onus is on Tokyo to improve relations. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led his Liberal Democratic Party back to power in a landslide win Sunday.
"China attaches importance to the direction of Japan's policy toward China, and hopes Japan will deeply reflect on and properly handle the current difficulty in the China-Japan relations," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing.
In contrast to Beijing's low-key approach, the Chinese blogosphere crackled with barbs for the LDP win and especially for Abe.
Some said Abe's win would push Japan further to the right and bring about the country's ruin. Others called for a boycott of Japanese goods after Abe was reported in postelection comments to have called for a tougher line over the disputed islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.
Asked about Abe's comments, Hua, the spokeswoman, reiterated Beijing's claim that the islands are part of China. She urged Abe, without naming him, to focus on the overall benefits that good relations bring to both countries.
"We hope the Japanese politicians can look at the big picture of the development of the China-Japan relations and work with China to drive the sound and stable growth of relations forward," Hua said.