June 29, 2020 10:11
Japan has expressed opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump's invitation of South Korea to an expanded G7 summit, Kyodo News reported on Sunday.
The message was "conveyed by a high-level Japanese government official immediately after Trump on May 30 broached the idea of inviting Australia, India, Russia and South Korea to this year’s summit," Kyodo wrote quoting U.S. and Japanese diplomatic sources.
Kyodo said Tokyo is worried that "Seoul is out of lockstep with G7 members on Chinese and North Korean issues." It also wants to keep the G7 framework intact.
Japan is concerned about the South Korean government giving priority to inter-Korean reconciliation and maintaining a pro-China policy.
"It is up to the holder of the rotating G7 presidency to decide which countries to invite as guests to the summit," Kyodo said. "Japan would not object to South Korea merely taking part in an outreach session of the G7 meeting."
But Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told NHK, "It's very important to keep the G7 framework itself, and I believe this is an overall consensus."
Washington has said that Trump is yet to make the final decision on the issue.
Tokyo seems chary of its position as the only Asian member of the G7 and afraid that Seoul could bring up historical issues, such as Japan's wartime atrocities.
A senior Cheong Wa Dae official dismissed the report as one media outlet's viewpoint rather than an official announcement. A Foreign Ministry spokesman here said, "Restructuring of the G7 needs the consensus of the existing G7 members, and we understand that Washington is currently reviewing the issue."
But lawmaker Song Young-gil of the ruling Minjoo Party said Tokyo's resistance is part of an "anti-Korean political campaign designed to please Japanese voters. It's very regrettable that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has launched such an irresponsible campaign to win over voters just as we need a global response to the coronavirus epidemic."
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