Updated: 04/21/2013 11:23 | By Agence France-Presse

Japan's Abe offers China quake help

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has offered China help after a strong earthquake hit the southwest Sichuan province, killing at least 160 people and injuring thousands.

Japan's Abe offers China quake help

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe waves to crowds in Tokyo on April 20, 2013. Abe has offered China help after a strong earthquake hit the southwest Sichuan province.

Abe sent a message to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday, expressing sympathy for the victims and hopes the communities would recover as soon as possible, the foreign ministry said.

"Japan is ready to offer its maximum support," the message said.

China responded by saying while overseas assistance is not needed at the moment, it would contact Japan if aid was required, the ministry said.

Sino-Japanese ties remain strained since a long-simmering territorial dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea intensified last year.

Japan administers the unoccupied islands, which it calls Senkaku. China, which also claims them, refers to them as Diaoyu. The waters around the islands are considered potentially rich in natural resources.

Tensions spiked last September after the Japanese government purchased islets in the chain it did not already own, sparking violent demonstrations in Chinese cities.

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