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January 09, 2014 AT 6:59 AM
Japan, at odds with China on territorial and other issues, took its case to Europe on Thursday, defending Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a war shrine and reiterating its call for an emergency hotline between Tokyo and Beijing. Ties between the two Asian economic giants, never warm, were further strained last month when Abe visited Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals are enshrined with other war dead, angering China and South Korea. Beijing and Tokyo are also arguing over ownership of a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea. China has said it is willing to talk to Japan about the issue but has accused Abe of not being serious about wanting to resolve the dispute.