Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering attending the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands in March, government officials said Monday.
The March 24 to 25 summit would provide Abe with an opportunity to hold talks with U.S. President Barack Obama and perhaps have contact with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Obama and Xi are expected to meet bilaterally in The Hague, according to sources familiar with the development.
Abe will make a decision on his attendance while taking into account Diet deliberations on the state budget for fiscal 2014, which begins on April 1.
Abe “should attend (the summit) if he can manage the Diet schedule,” said an official close to the prime minister.
If a Japan-U.S. summit takes place in The Hague, Abe is expected to explain his abrasive visit in December to Yasukuni Shrine, which served as the spiritual center for Japan’s war of aggression, they said. Abe’s angered China, South Korea and was criticized by the United States.
The officials said Abe is hoping to “secure U.S. understanding” of his shrine visit and buttress the Japan-U.S. alliance amid China’s more assertive stance over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Since China has rejected Abe’s calls for a summit with Xi amid soured ties over the islets, as well as differences on history, the two governments do not anticipate talks between the two leaders in the near future. The leaders, however, might have an informal exchange if Abe attends the summit.
Abe has repeatedly said “the door for dialogue is always open” to the leaders of China and South Korea.