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Yoon considers holding the ROK-US-Japan NATO Summit

Posted June. 22, 2022 07:58,   

Updated June. 22, 2022 08:01


President Yoon Suk-yeol is considering holding a trilateral summit between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan at the NATO Summit to be scheduled in Madrid, Spain on June 29 and 30. If the trilateral summit is held, it means that following the Quad leaders’ summit between Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, the leaders of Korea and Japan will have a chance to meet in two bilateral summits on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

According to Japan's NHK and TV Asahi on Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed his desire to hold a meeting with the heads of state during the NATO summit, and is making adjustments whether a South Korea-U.S.-Japan summit is feasible. The Japanese government is said to be considering holding summits with the leaders of five countries, including Australia and New Zealand, in addition to the South Korea-U.S.-Japan summit. "I understand that the Korean government is reviewing the schedule after receiving a proposal to hold the South Korea-U.S.-Japan summit,” a South Korean government official said.

If the South Korea-U.S.-Japan summit is held, the heads of the three countries will hold a face-to-face summit for the first time in four years and nine months after meeting for the trilateral summit during the UN General Assembly in September 2017, not long after the Moon Jae-in administration took office. With the summit meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida plans to hold high the banner of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” initiative promoted by the United States and Japan to contain China’s military expansion. The trilateral summit is intended to reaffirm the collaboration between Korea, the US and Japan against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats as well.

However, if the trilateral summit is held at the NATO summit, it is highly likely that the South Korea-Japan summit will not be held. The Japanese government is reluctant to hold the bilateral summit with South Korea at the moment. This is because, prior to the House of Councilors election on the 10th of next month, he has no choice but to pay attention to the conservative and hawkish voices of Japanese conservatives.

Accordingly, the Japanese government is choosing to strengthen ties with South Korea against North Korea and China by taking part in the multilateral summits in which South Korea takes part while putting off on holding a bilateral summit for now. This is also in response to Washington's wish of improved relations between Korea and Japan. U.S. President Joe Biden considers the enhanced collaboration between the U.S., Korea and Japan critical to contain China. Earlier, at the South Korea-U.S. summit held on the May 21, he asserted, "It is important that the U.S., Korea, and Japan to maintain a very close trilateral relationship economically and militarily."

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