National / Politics

G20 foreign ministers, including South Korea's Kang Kyung-wha, gather in Nagoya for Japan's last turn as host

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

Foreign ministers from the Group of 20 major economies gathered in Nagoya on Friday, where they were set to discuss free trade, sustainable development and how to best assist rapidly growing economies in Africa.

The two-day event — the last of the eight ministerial G20 meetings to be chaired by Japan this year — will be attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.

A big question had been whether South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha would show up.

Kang didn’t reveal whether she would attend the G20 sessions until the last minute but indeed landed in Nagoya on Friday night.

The same day, a key intelligence-sharing pact between them was extended in the hours before it was due to expire.

Meanwhile, the attention of most Japanese diplomats appeared to be focused on bilateral meetings to be held on the sidelines of the summit. There was no plan to issue a joint statement, according to a Japanese diplomat.

The G20 meeting in Nagoya will likely see the foreign ministers briefly explain their official positions on issues rather than seek a consensus on any particular hot topic issue, a senior Japanese diplomat said, noting that Wang, for example, is not scheduled to address major economic or trade issues.

Still, the plenary session on Saturday will provide a good opportunity for participants to discuss controversial reform proposals being put forward by the World Trade Organization, the official said.

On Monday, Wang and Motegi plan to hold a bilateral session in Tokyo, together with other Cabinet-level officials to discuss human and cultural exchanges between the two countries, including the promotion of tourism, Japanese officials said.

In recent months, Beijing and Tokyo have tried to further cement their recently improved bilateral relationship in preparation for a planned visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan next spring.

Amid a trade war with the U.S., China has tried to improve ties with other countries.