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In 2006 Prime Minister Abe Shinzō displayed a flexible posture towards China by refusing to clearly state whether he would visit the Yasukuni Shrine or not. When he returned to the post of the head of government in 2012, however, he refused to make any compromise on history or territorial issues. The aim of the article is to compare international, domestic and intraparty factors that influenced Abe’s China policy under his first and second cabinets. The fact that it was the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands rather than the Yasukuni problem that constituted the main obstacle in Sino-Japanese relations in 2012 hardened Abe’s posture towards Beijing. Moreover, by contrast to situation in 2006, the Japanese society demanded an assertive policy towards China after nationalization of the disputed archipelago by the Noda cabinet in 2012. In addition, due to decomposition of the Democratic Party of Japan, in 2012 Abe did not feel pressure from the opposition parties in this regard. Equally important was the fact that the pro-Beijing camp in the Liberal Democratic Party weakened considerably since 2006. All these determinants influenced Japan’s China policy and made Abe less willing to seek an agreement with Beijing.
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