Fumio Kishida Arrives In Seoul For Summit With S Korea, China Leaders

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, and South Korea’s 1st Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hong-kyun, right, walk past members of an honor guard as Kishida arrives for a trilateral meeting, at the Seoul airport in Seongnam, South Korea, Sunday, May 26, 2024. The leaders of South Korea, China and Japan will meet next week in Seoul for their first trilateral talks since 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
At the countries’ first three-way summit in more than four years, Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Chinese Premier Li Qiang are expected to agree to cooperate in tackling common challenges such as epidemics and the graying of their populations.
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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a trilateral summit with South Korea and China, as the regional security environment has become more uncertain amid the North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

All eyes are on the three leaders’ policies toward North Korea, which has been bolstering economic and military cooperation with China amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing have been at odds over economic cooperation. China imposed a blanket ban on Japanese seafood imports after the release of treated radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant commenced in August 2023.

Kishida told reporters before leaving Tokyo that he is eager to “revitalize the Japan-China-South Korea process” through the summit.

In a recent interview with Kyodo News, he said, “I hope to have an open discussion and agree to promote future-oriented and practical cooperation on a wide range of issues,” emphasizing the importance of “a free and fair international economic order.”

A Japanese government official said the leaders are likely to exchange views on how to move ahead with negotiations on a three-way free trade agreement, which stalled in early 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The countries are supposed to hold trilateral summits annually on a rotating basis, but they have occasionally been suspended as Japan’s relations with its two neighbors have chilled over historical and territorial disputes.

Kishida, Yoon and Li, meanwhile, will be meeting days after China carried out two-day drills around Taiwan, which Beijing said were a “strong punishment” for those seeking the island’s “independence” and a “stern warning” to “external forces” against interference and provocation.

The exercises followed last Monday’s inauguration of Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te, whom China condemns as a separatist. He is the leader of the ruling, independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party.

It is uncertain whether Yoon, Kishida and Li will raise issues related to Taiwan, the official said. Taiwan and China have been governed separately since they split as the result of a civil war in 1949. Beijing claims Taiwan is part of China’s territory and an “internal affair.”

The countries last held a three-way summit in December 2019 in Chengdu, southwestern China. The leaders then were Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, assassinated in July 2022, Yoon’s predecessor Moon Jae In and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who died in October 2023.

On the sidelines of the trilateral summit, Kishida is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with the South Korean president and the Chinese premier, the Japanese government said.

Los Angeles Times

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