• Kyodo


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will attend a series of meetings on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week, with attention centering on whether Japan will be cold-shouldered by China and South Korea.

Tokyo is attempting to arrange meetings between Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Chinese and South Korean counterparts to lay the groundwork for Abe’s first official one-on-one summits with the two countries’ respective leaders since he took office in 2012.

Abe is chasing separate tete-a-tetes with Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye during November’s confab of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, to be hosted in Beijing.

Territorial rows and somewhat differing perceptions of wartime history have sent Japan’s ties with China and South Korea into a deep chill, although Kishida last month held separate talks with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in Myanmar, on the sidelines of a get-together of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

On Friday, meanwhile, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori handed Park a personal message from Abe in Seoul, and the two countries also organized a bilateral meeting in Tokyo of their senior Foreign Ministry officials.

Mori, who heads the organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, attended the opening ceremony of the Asian Games the same day in Incheon, South Korea.

Japan is further trying to hook up Kishida with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong, especially since Pyongyang just admitted it is unprepared to submit any substantive report to Tokyo about Japanese it may have abducted decades ago.

If that rendezvous can be arranged, Kishida is expected to politely threaten North Korea to step up efforts on what it earlier promised would be a full-scale reinvestigation into the abductees.

Back at the U.N. General Assembly, meanwhile, major topics of discussion for world leaders will include how to deal with the Islamic State militant group that is busily carving up the Middle East, as well as the respective crisis in Ukraine and Israel’s military pummeling of the Gaza Strip.

U.S. President Barack Obama will chair a summit of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to discuss an American-sponsored resolution aimed at cutting off the flow of foreign fighters to the Islamic State.

Among other meetings, the Group of Seven major industrialized nations will hold a brainstorming session among their foreign ministers on Thursday to maintain close cooperation on the situation in Ukraine.

Abe will address a climate summit Tuesday and the assembly’s general debate two days later. He will also take part in Friday’s high-level meeting on U.N. peacekeeping operations.

With next year marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, Japan is calling for reform of the Security Council along with its buddies in the so-called Group of Four: Brazil, Germany and India. The four countries are making a concerted effort to join the council as permanent members.

Abe is scheduled to leave for New York on Monday and to return to Japan on Saturday.

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