Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front left) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (front right) at the summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries in Vietnam, 2017 (Yonhap)
The Japanese government has raised objections to the US proposal to include South Korea in an expanded Group of 7 summit in September, Japan’s Kyodo News reported Sunday, citing multiple diplomatic sources from Washington and Tokyo.
In a message relayed to Washington upon its announcement to have Seoul at the table for the first time, along with three other countries, Tokyo said South Korea prioritizes inter-Korean reconciliation and leans on China, so the engagement would be inconsistent with that of the other G-7 countries, according to the report.
The US government in response said President Donald Trump would make the final call.
The Japanese government, when pressed to clarify its stance on the issue, has not conceded much other than that it was in consultation with the US.
Tokyo said however that it was not opposed to the idea that Seoul take a one-time seat rather than be a standing member of the group that discusses responses to pending economic issues.
The news agency said Tokyo raised objections because it sought to be the group’s sole Asian member and aimed to bar Seoul from floating the prolonged dispute over Japan’s wartime use of Korean forced laborers and sex slaves.
In inviting South Korea to the September meeting in the US, President Trump a month ago called the G-7 summit a “very outdated group,” saying he was expanding the coalition to properly represent what was going on in the world. President Moon Jae-in gladly accepted the invitation, lauding Seoul’s elevated status.
By Choi Si-young (firstname.lastname@example.org