• Jiji, Kyodo, Bloomberg

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Japan is opposed to expanding official membership of the summit of the Group of Seven key industrialized nations, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday.

“We believe that maintaining the current G7 framework is extremely important,” the top government spokesman said at a news conference.

The comment came after a news report quoted diplomatic sources in the U.S. as saying Tokyo had told Washington it opposed a suggestion by U.S. President Donald Trump to add Seoul to the Group of Seven summit — a move likely to further chill already icy ties with South Korea.

Suga declined to comment on the details due to it being a diplomatic matter.

“Ultimately, the way this year’s G7 summit is held will be determined by the United States,” Suga said. The U.S. is the chair for the G7 this year.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday that it would refrain from commenting on the reports, and Japan’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Japan and South Korea have seen relations deteriorate to their poorest levels in years due to renewed disputes related to Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.

The tensions have clouded trade links and joint security for the two U.S. allies, who both face a threat from North Korea and live in the shadow of China’s growing military.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in May he was considering inviting Russia, South Korea, Australia and India to an extended G7 leaders’ meeting, alongside the seven member countries, saying the existing set-up was outdated.

The current G7 member countries are the U.S., Japan, Germany, Canada, the U.K., France and Italy. Several countries are opposed to the idea of including Russia, which was suspended from what was then the Group of Eight major economies in 2014 after its annexation of Crimea. South Korea is a member of the Group of 20.

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