Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has no plan to set up a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae In on the sidelines of a Group of Seven summit in Britain starting next week, Japanese government sources said Saturday, even as both countries recognize the need to improve soured ties.
Suga is set to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden during a G-7 summit slated for June 11 to 13 in Cornwall, southwestern England, with Moon possibly joining for a trilateral meeting, according to other people familiar with the matter. G-7 host Britain has invited Moon as a guest to the in-person summit, which also brings together members including Japan and the United States.
But the Japanese government sees little benefit in holding a bilateral summit with South Korea at this time, as no major progress is expected in the talks on issues involving wartime history, the sources said.
"No preparations have been made or are being considered," a Japanese senior government official told Kyodo News.
Suga and Moon held telephone talks in September last year. But the two countries have not held an in-person summit since December 2019 when Suga's predecessor Shinzo Abe met with Moon in China.
The two countries' foreign ministers held their first talks in more than a year on the fringes of the G-7 foreign ministerial gathering in London last month but failed to span the divide over the bilateral issues.
There is no sign of South Korea proposing a summit with Japan and even if there is, Suga has no intention of accepting the offer, another Japanese government source said.
South Korean intelligence chief Park Jie Won said last month his country is hoping for the possibility of holding a summit with Japan to mend bilateral ties when he met with Suga in Tokyo. The Japanese premier echoed the sentiment at the time.
The United States is hoping for improved ties between the two key Asian allies since it sees robust three-way coordination as indispensable for curbing North Korea's weapons development and keeping an increasingly assertive China in check.
Still, Japan-South Korea relations remain at their lowest point in decades following South Korean Supreme Court rulings in 2018 that ordered Japanese companies to compensate plaintiffs who were laborers during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Also deteriorating ties is the issue of Koreans forced to work as "comfort women" in Japan's wartime military brothels.