Written by By, Nina DiSesa, CNN Seoul, South Korea
South Korea is likely to be excluded from next week’s G20 summit at the weekend in Argentina after Japan refused to let the summit be an intra-Asia affair, a South Korean delegation member told CNN on Wednesday.
The summit is expected to be dominated by discussions on trade, investment and currency conflicts, as well as climate change and gender equality.
In recent weeks, diplomatic relations between the US and South Korea have grown increasingly strained, with President Donald Trump and the Korean government going head-to-head over the latter’s decision to deploy a US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system — which South Korea says is necessary to ensure its own safety, but which the US says is aimed at containing threats from North Korea.
While the US administration wants Japan to participate in talks on the THAAD deployment, Tokyo has argued that — with Seoul already slated to host the summit — it has had enough responsibilities with which to take on.
This will not sit well with the South Korean delegation, who told CNN they had asked Japan’s prime minister for a representative at the G20 meeting, but were rebuffed.
Kim Doo-un, a spokesman for South Korea’s foreign ministry, said: “We expressed regret at the Japanese position.”
“Japan is a member of the Group of 20 nations. Its participation in discussions would be desirable … but the Japanese side refused to play a role.”
Ties hit a nerve
Tokyo has already refused to participate in a trilateral meeting with the US and South Korea that was announced last week, despite being invited to join in.
Tokyo has argued that the dispute could worsen ties between its two Asian neighbors, and that it has no interest in antagonizing the Trump administration.
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Wednesday that Japan cannot accept the G20 proposal, which he said was having “a negative impact on bilateral relations.”
North Korea’s plan to launch another intercontinental ballistic missile on the eve of the gathering threatens to overshadow the summit in Buenos Aires.