Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to visit China on Dec. 24 to hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, government sources said Monday.
The three leaders, who last met in Tokyo in May 2018, are expected to discuss North Korea, economic cooperation and other issues.
A focal point is whether bilateral talks between Abe and Moon will take place amid worsening relations between their countries.
The three are expected to confirm cooperation toward full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and discuss the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and a free trade agreement between the three countries.
Abe also hopes to hold a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to exchange views on Xi’s planned visit to Japan as a state guest next spring, the sources said.
Japan-South Korea relations are slumping following Japan’s imposition of stricter controls on exports to South Korea and Seoul’s decision not to renew its intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo, called the General Security of Military Information Agreement.
Their tit-for-tat row came after the South Korean Supreme Court last year ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to South Korean plaintiffs over wartime forced labor.
An Abe-Moon meeting is unlikely to take place, a senior Japanese government official said, citing a lack of fresh developments that may help find a point of compromise to improve the two countries’ relations.
In addition, Seoul has shown no sign of making a concession.
Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a gathering with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Taro Kono and Kang Kyung-wha, that a meeting among Abe, Li and Moon is set for year-end.