Japan's Abe seeks trilateral summit with South Korea, U.S

TOKYO Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:43am EDT

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe points to a reporter during a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo March 10, 2014, a day before the third anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that struck the nation's northeast. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe points to a reporter during a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo March 10, 2014, a day before the third anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that struck the nation's northeast.

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is trying to arrange a trilateral summit with South Korea and the United States for this month, a government official said on Wednesday, in a bid to thaw Tokyo's frozen relations with Seoul.

Seoul appears cool to the idea of a meeting of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a global nuclear-security summit in the Hague, Netherlands, on March 24-25.

Japan hopes that with mutual ally Obama in the room, Park would be willing to sit down face-to-face with Abe, something the Japanese leader has sought unsuccessfully since he took office 15 months ago.

Abe has visited the leaders of all 10 Southeast Asian nations and met five times with Russia's president but has yet to meet one-on-one with the leaders of South Korea or China.

Japan's ties with both neighbors have worsened over bilateral territorial disputes and a feeling in Seoul and Beijing that Tokyo has not atoned for its acts in World War Two.

A Japanese official, who was briefed on the trilateral summit strategy, said it was unclear whether Seoul would respond to the push for a three-way meeting.

A South Korean government official indicated no progress was likely unless Japan makes further efforts to resolve frictions stemming from Japan's world time past.

"As long as there is no change to Japan's view on the question of history, there is no consideration for any kind of summit with Japan," the official said.

America is spearheading the summit effort, worried that the worsening of relations between its two key Asian allies could affect U.S. strategy in the region, Japan's Nikkei newspaper said. White House and U.S. State Department officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Washington's top East Asia diplomat called last week for Tokyo and Seoul to work urgently to reduce tensions.

There was no comment from the White House or the State Department in Washington on Wednesday, but a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council said:

"We believe good relations between our key allies Japan and Korea are in the best interests of the two countries themselves, in the best interests of the region and in the best interests of the United States.

"As we've said repeatedly, we hope Japan and the ROK will work together to resolve their differences in an amicable way through dialogue."

The summit idea was believed to have to come up in a meeting on Wednesday in Seoul between Japan's Deputy Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki and South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong. The agenda for the meeting is bilateral relations and North Korea, the two countries' foreign ministries said.

Officials declined to comment afterwards.

In addition to Abe's December visit to a shrine that Asian countries say glorifies Japan's World War Two aggression, a flashpoint with Seoul has been the issue of wartime "comfort women," a euphemism for women, mostly Korean, who were pressed into service as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers.

Abe has repeatedly stuck by a 1993 government apology for the treatment of the women and admission that Japanese authorities were involved in procuring them for military brothels.

Japan sparked outrage recently by announcing it would review the circumstances behind the 1993 apology, known as the Kono statement. Japanese nationalists despise the document, claiming there is no evidence Japan was involved in coercing the women.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that despite the review, the government will not rescind the statement. "I've said repeatedly ... that the Abe government will uphold the Kono statement. Japan would like to continue explaining that point to countries concerned," he told reporters on Tuesday.

(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, Jack Kim and Ju-min Park in Seoul, David Brunnstrom and Steve Holland in Washington; Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Michael Perry and Andrew Hay)

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Comments (2)
Bobsmith20 wrote:
Abe and his Aide is going to extreme right direction that will lead the return of the evil imperial Japan army. Accomplishment of Abe in 2013:
1. Deny Tokyo Trial
2. Deny comfort women
3. Deny WWII war crimes
4. Changing constitution for imperail army return and bring back evil emperor to be head of States.
5. Openly admitted himself an extreme right member in front of UN.
6. Increase military spending even under US protection.
7. Worshipped the ghostly WWII war criminals Shrine as an great insult to all WWII victims. There is no hero there.
8. Keeping the stolen islands that is not belong to Japan.
9. Changing school text and put incorrect history to school children.
10. Still not repent from WWII compare with Germany which is much much better than Japan.
11. Hiding the nuclear weapon materials which violates the constitution.

Abe: Honor to history but not to your WWII uncles.

Mar 12, 2014 1:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ReiszRie wrote:
Those are merely your personal opinions and does not represent facts.

1. 2. & 3. Japan never officially denied the national stance has remained unchanged and this includes the apologies issued and financial reparation paid to settle claims from the war.

4. The change in constitution only allows for Japan to come to the aid of an ally or when its territory is under attack, it does not redact their renouncement of using military force as a means of settling disputes and Japan still cannot go to war even with the revised constitution.

5. Never heard of that, please link references.

6. U.S. protection is not absolute, and U.S. has been asking for Japan to take an active role in its self-defense so that Y.S. can reduce its presence in the region

7. Shinto-ism does not have afterlife, as such, there is no way for the shrine to specifically honor a war criminal, countries have used hyperbole to mis-contrue the shrine as one seeking to glorify war criminals but that is absolutely untrue and inaccurate on numerous accounts.

8. territory disputes are highly controversial, as of now, there are no territory Japan administers by force and all territory administered by Japan is internationally recognized, if there are any territory disputes, my personal opinion would be to seek arbitration from UN, if a party refuses to, then it is rather obvious who has a stronger claim over the territory.

9. Untrue, Japanese are taught from young, the role Japan played during WW2 and they are brought up with the understanding of Japan as the aggressor, hence the passiveness towards war and conflict exhibited by the Japanese.

10. I doubt Germany is thrilled to be constantly brought into the dispute as an “example” truth be told, it is a dark history that everyone wants to and should put behind, constant bringing up of it helps no one and serves no purpose in the greater good. Japan has repented plenty of times, through apologies and through their loss of national identity, it is no coincidence that the ordinary Japanese feels passive towards war and conflict and countries should recognize that the Japanese have shouldered a great deal of the shame and burden and it is about time to stop demonizing and punishing them.

11. Officially, the plutonium was on loan for scientific research, all other conspiracy theories should not be taken seriously as they have little factual value.

Mar 12, 2014 2:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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