SINGAPORE - Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were named "Asians of the Year" for 2013 on Wednesday by Singapore's Straits Times, which urged them to reach out to each other to avert a conflict.
"In Asia, currently, no two leaders have greater responsibility to build up their economies, protect the global commons and preserve the peace that has paved the way for Asian prosperity," the leading Southeast Asian daily said in a citation.
Beijing and Tokyo are embroiled in a protracted row over islands in the East China Sea that has escalated since last year.
"The recent flare-up of tensions over the announcement of a new air defence identification zone (ADIZ) is evidence of the deep-seated anxieties on both sides. These explain, and fuel, nationalistic fervour in both countries, which if not well managed, could give rise to popular pressures that might spiral beyond the control of political leaders."
The Chinese ADIZ overlaps those of Japan and South Korea, which were set up decades ago, and includes areas claimed by both countries.
Myanmar's reformist President Thein Sein was the recipient of the Straits Times' inaugural Asian of the Year title in 2012.