Japan is working to arrange a trilateral summit with China and South Korea in late November or early December, aiming to strengthen cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s missile development and countering terrorism, according to government sources.
It would be the first such summit hosted by Japan in over five years.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Park Geun-hye plan to take part in the trilateral summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which would likely be held in Tokyo, the sources said Tuesday.
Li and Park would be making their first trips to Japan.
The government plans to speed up preparations for the summit following Abe’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, during which they reaffirmed the need to promote dialogue.
Abe was to invite Park to visit Japan for the trilateral summit when meeting with her Wednesday in Laos on the sidelines of a series of regional meetings, the sources said.
To pave the way for Park’s trip, former Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, head of a Japan-South Korea parliamentarian group, will visit South Korea and meet with her and members of its South Korean counterpart group, the sources said.
A diplomatic source said Park is willing to visit Japan, while China has so far been positive about a possible three-way summit.
But Beijing has been displeased by Japan’s position on the maritime disputes in the South China Sea and will likely monitor how the Abe administration acts in relation to the issue before making a final decision, according to the government sources.
While Japan is not directly involved in the overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea pitting China against smaller claimants, it sees the waters as a vital sea lane for oil imports.
If a three-way summit is held, Japan also wants to promote negotiations toward concluding a trilateral free trade agreement, cooperate on disaster prevention and further promote sports exchanges.
The annual trilateral summits were held in rotation from 2008, but one was not held in 2013 and 2014 due to the deterioration in Japan-China ties over the Senkaku Islands.
Last November, the leaders of the three countries met in Seoul and agreed to revive the summit talks and set their next meeting in Japan for 2016.