Japan, China, South Korea planning next summit

TOKYO – Japan, China and South Korea have begun arranging a trilateral summit meeting aimed to be held within this year, it has been learned.

China, the next host country, suggested the meeting, and the Japanese government is expected to accept the suggestion.

The summit, if realized, would be the first time the meeting was held twice in a year, following the one held in May in Tokyo.

The Japanese government aims to forge solidarity with China and South Korea through the meeting in order to proceed with the denuclearization of North Korea.

With the Liberal Democratic Party presidential election scheduled in September, a trilateral meeting is likely to be arranged sometime between autumn and December in China.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to have talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae In to discuss Pyongyang’s denuclearization and economic cooperation.

In relation to issues involving North Korea, it is thought that there is a possibility that China and South Korea will ramp up their conciliatory stance and ease sanctions against North Korea in response to the latest U.S.-North Korea summit talks held on June 12.

Abe apparently plans to urge his counterparts at a trilateral meeting to maintain sanctions against Pyongyang until some progress is seen over denuclearization.

China, meanwhile, has deepened its confrontation with the United States over trade. By swiftly holding a trilateral meeting, China is apparently trying to send a message to promote free trade and warn against the stance of the United States, which is pushing protectionism.

Acceleration of negotiations toward a trilateral free trade agreement as well as the early conclusion of a regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) in East Asia are likely to become agenda issues at the meeting.

Abe has been aiming to visit China this year to hold a bilateral meeting as part of efforts to improve the Japan-China relationship. If there are scheduling conflicts, the prime minister is expected to change his plans in line with a trilateral meeting.

Another possibility has emerged in which Abe goes to China for the summit and visits the country again after the trilateral meeting. During his visit to China, Abe will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and urge him to visit Japan at an early date.

The first Japan-China-South Korea trilateral meeting took place in 2008, with each nation taking turns to host the event.

The meetings had been held every year until 2012 but were not held in 2013 and 2014 due to a confrontation between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture as well as a deteriorating relationship between Japan and South Korea over the issue of so-called comfort women.

The meetings resumed for the first time in 3½ years in November 2015, and the seventh event was held in May this year.

Don’t miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.