Kim to delay Japan visit until after G8 talks

South Korean President Kim Dae Jung’s proposed trip to Japan, originally considered for May, is likely to take place after the Group of Eight nations’ summit in Okinawa Prefecture from July 21-23, Japanese and South Korean government sources said Thursday.

A May visit would probably prove difficult because Seoul is preparing for an inter-Korean summit in June and because Japan could have general elections that month, they said.

The president’s trip to Japan was agreed upon when Foreign Minister Yohei Kono met Kim on March 27.

On March 11, the president said May would be a good time for the visit. The Japanese government was also considering a May summit, to be held in Sapporo, and Kono told Kim, “We want to have a place where you can exchange opinions with Prime Minister (Keizo) Obuchi in a relaxed atmosphere.”

However, the situation has changed since the Kono-Kim meeting, with Obuchi in a coma after a stroke and replaced by Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori earlier this month.

A date for the general elections has yet to be announced, but they are likely to take place in June. South and North Korea have agreed to hold their summit on June 12-14.

President Kim has so far made one state visit to Japan. He visited in October 1998 after assuming the presidency in February the same year.