Abe Refuses to Meet Moon Unless Korea Relents

  • By Lee Ha-won

    July 30, 2019 09:49

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he refuses to meet with President Moon Jae-in unless the Korean government stops victims of wartime forced labor from seeking compensation, the Sankei Shimbun reported Monday.

    The conservative daily said Abe was telling Seoul that he will wait until Korea "shifts its stance" after it effectively canceled a shady deal struck by the previous Korean government to compensate victims of wartime sex slavery without Japan admitting responsibility.

    Korea's chief trade negotiator Yoo Myung-hee said she requested a meeting with Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko in Beijing on the sidelines of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership later this week. But he refused to meet her saying he is too busy.

    Korea's chief trade negotiator Yoo Myung-hee takes a moment before a press briefing at the government complex in Sejong City on Monday.

    Moon and Abe will attend the UN General Assembly in late September as well as the ASEAN+3 meeting in Thailand from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 and APEC summit in Chile on Nov. 16-17. They are also in contact to discuss a trilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping before the end of this year.

    But the two leaders may end up pointedly ignoring each other at the international meetings. At the G20 Summit in Osaka last month they merely shook hands in passing.

    The foreign ministers of Korea, the U.S. and Japan are slated to meet on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Bangkok on Aug. 2, and that could provide a chance for the Korean and Japanese foreign ministers to sit down one on one.

    The same day, the Japanese Cabinet is expected to decide whether to strike Korea from a "whitelist" of preferential trade partners. Once Korea is removed from the whitelist, Japanese exporters must obtain individual permission for high-tech materials when they are shipped to Korea.

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