Visiting Cornwall in the United Kingdom to attend the G7 summit, South Korean President Moon Jae-in briefly exchanged greetings with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Saturday to conclude their first meeting. Originally, the South Korean presidential office expected informal “pull-aside meeting” style talks, through which Moon and Suga would get together in a natural fashion at the site of the G7 summit, but it has not happened.
“President Moon Jae-in encountered Prime Minister Suga and exchanged friendly greetings at Carbis Bay Hotel prior to the opening of the health session in the expanded G7 summit,” presidential spokeswoman Park Kyung-mi said in a written press briefing. The Japanese government announced to the Japanese media, “President Moon approached Prime Minister Suga and initiated a conversation and they exchanged greetings very briefly.” It is the first time that President Moon met in person with Prime Minister Suga, who was inaugurated in September last year. According to Japanese media outlets, Moon and Suga again met for a minute at a dinner hosted by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife after Saturday’s summit meeting. They were accompanied by South Korean First Lady Kim Jung-sook and Mariko Suga, the Japanese prime minister’s wife.
Originally, commenting on the possibility of an informal meeting between Seoul and Tokyo or among Seoul, Washington and Tokyo, the presidential office said, “The heads of state will have opportunities to have conversation freely, standing or sitting.” The presidential office effectively admitted that Seoul was seeking informal talks between the leaders of South Korea and Japan. However, since the two leaders have simply exchanged greetings, the South Korean government’s bid to open dialogue to mend Seoul-Tokyo ties during the last year of Moon’s term in office might be facing hurdles, watchers say.
Prime Minister Suga reportedly have negative views towards holding a Seoul-Tokyo summit before Seoul makes an offer of concessions on contentious historical issues, including Korean slave laborers and sex slaves (known as “comfort women”), and the two governments reach an agreement.
Ji-Sun Choi email@example.com