Politics Japan pushes back on plan to add South Korea to G7

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Japan has opposed changes to the Group of Seven nations as it pushes back on a proposal by United States President Donald Trump that would have the Republic of Korea join in an expanded summit later this year.

Tokyo had told Washington that it stood against the participation of the ROK in the G7 summit because it and Seoul had different policies on China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Kyodo News reported, citing unidentified sources related to Japanese and US diplomacy.

Echoing the report, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Monday told reporters: "It is important to maintain the G7 framework as it is."

However, Suga also said it was up to this year's host, the US, to decide on arrangements for the meeting.

The G7 has frequently invited other nations to take part as guests, but changing the format on a permanent basis would require the consent of all members.

Refraining from comment

In response, the ROK's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that it would refrain from commenting on the report.

However, a ROK presidential office official was quoted by Yonhap News as saying that Tokyo's behavior was "typically shameless".

"There's nothing to be surprised any more by Japan's consistent attitude not to admit or atone for its wrongdoings," the official said, describing Japan as accustomed to "harming" a neighboring country.

Trump said in May that he was considering inviting Russia, the ROK, Australia and India to an extended G7 leaders meeting, alongside the seven member countries-the US, Japan, Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

But he had been unclear on exactly when to hold the summit after a previously planned meeting in June was scrapped due to coronavirus concerns.

"Maybe I'll do it after the election," Trump said in late May. "I think a good time would be before the election." The US presidential election is slated for Nov 3.

Meanwhile, Yu Qiang, a researcher of Japan studies at the University of International Relations in Beijing, said the revelation that Japan had expressed opposition to the ROK's participation in the G7 summit was likely to further sour Tokyo-Seoul ties, which have been overshadowed by disputes over "wartime history and trade issues".

"ROK's inclusion in the G7 would mean Japan is losing its status as the sole Asian member of the framework," Yu added.

In a move that may further affect ties between Japan and the ROK, Japan on Monday decided to begin an anti-dumping probe into potassium carbonate imported from the ROK. The probe is expected to be completed within a year.

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