Japan Seeking to Keep South Korea Out of G-7, Kyodo Says

Japan has told the U.S. it opposes the participation of South Korea in a Group of Seven summit this year, Kyodo News reported, citing more than one source related to Japanese and U.S. diplomacy.

The Japanese government objected on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo reported this weekend. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency said.

Japan and South Korea have seen relations fall to their lowest levels in years due to renewed disputes arising from Japan’s 1910-1945 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.

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Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told national broadcaster NHK on Sunday that it was important to maintain the current G-7 framework and that this was the consensus view, Kyodo said.

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

U.S. President Donald Trump said in May he was considering inviting Russia, South Korea, Australia and India to an extended G-7 leaders meeting, alongside the seven member countries, saying the existing set-up was outdated.

The current G-7 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.

— With assistance by Jihye Lee

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