Japan ‘in no mood’ at leaders’ summit with South Korea at G7

Whether a meeting between Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will take place is a focal point at an upcoming in-person summit of the Group of Seven Great Industrial Countries of Britain.

But the Japanese side is cautious about hosting a Suga-Moon summit, with less than a year before the South Korean leader’s term ends and Seoul is unlikely to act positively to resolve the war work. and other outstanding issues between the two eastern countries. Asian nations, informed sources said.

The G7 summit is scheduled to take place in Cornwall, in southwest Britain, on June 11-13. Although South Korea is not a member of the G7, the summit host Britain is inviting Moon to this major political event as a guest. The other members of the G7 are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

Moon praised Suga for becoming prime minister in their phone talks, which took place shortly after the Japanese leader took office in September last year. But they still have to have a face-to-face meeting.

“It would be possible (for Suga and Moon) to have contact if they are in the same place,” said a senior official in the Japanese Foreign Ministry, noting that Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, was approached by Moon.

When a series of summits related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were held in Thailand in November 2019, Moon attempted to make contact with Abe, then Prime Minister of Japan. They had brief discussions as a result.

Tokyo did not view the talks as an official bilateral summit. But the South Korean side unilaterally released photos of the Moon-Abe meeting at the time to demonstrate that relations between the two countries were improving.

The Japanese side is cautious about hosting a Suga-Moon meeting at the upcoming G7 summit, which the European Union will also attend, as Seoul has shown no signs of action to resolve labor issues war and Korean comfort women, ”sources said. Comfort Women is an understatement for those who suffered under the Japanese military brothel system before and during World War II.

In a meeting with Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in London on May 5, South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said past issues between the two countries cannot be resolved without proper understanding. of Japanese history.

The Japanese side urged South Korea to quickly correct its violation of international law. But Seoul did not respond.

Tokyo finds it difficult to make further progress on the issues outstanding under the Moon administration.

Moon is already “a lame duck,” another senior foreign ministry official said, adding that “we are in no mood” to hold a bilateral summit.

A Japanese government official echoed this view, saying: “It may be necessary to hold a meeting of foreign ministers even if no progress is expected, but that is not the case with a meeting. at the top.”

Even if South Korea seeks contact with the Japanese side at the G7 summit in Britain, Suga and Moon will only speak on their feet, knowledgeable sources have said.

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