Moon is welcomed by Abe upon his arrival for a welcome and family photo session at G20 leaders summit in Osaka. File photo/Reuters
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is unlikely to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the United Nations General Assembly in September, the Sankei newspaper said on Monday, the latest sign of strained ties between the key US allies.
Abe will not hold talks with Moon unless Seoul takes constructive steps over World War-Two era forced labour and other issues, the paper said.
He will also forgo meeting Moon at an October meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering in November, the paper added.
The leaders did not meet during June’s Group of 20 summit in Japan’s western city of Osaka.
Separately, Korean Air Lines said it would suspend flights between the South Korean city of Busan and Sapporo in northern Japan from Sept. 3 because of falling demand amid the worsening diplomatic row that has spurred boycotts of Japanese goods and services, from beer to travel.
Relations between the Asian neighbours are arguably at their lowest ebb since they normalised ties in 1965.
Japan tightened restrictions on exports to South Korea of key high-tech materials in making memory chips and display panels, accusing its neighbour of inadequate management of sensitive items.
But the curbs were also seen as retaliation against last year’s ruling by the South Korean Supreme Court for Japanese companies to compensate Korean wartime forced labour.
Japan says the court’s decisions violate international law because compensation was settled under the 1965 treaty.
At a briefing on Monday after returning from a US trip, South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said she told American officials that Japan’s moves set a very dangerous precedent for using trade measures as a tool to resolve political issues.
Adding to the export curbs, Japan is preparing for cabinet approval as early as Aug. 2 to drop South Korea from a so-called white list of countries with minimum trade restrictions, Japanese media have said.
South Korea has protested against the plan, saying it would undermine the neighbours’ decades-old economic and security cooperation and threaten free trade.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Monday suggested high-level talks to resolve a deepening political and trade row with Japan during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,
The United States was “very encouraged” by a recent meeting between the leaders of South Korea and Japan, a top US diplomat said on Wednesday, as strained ties threatened to undercut three-way security cooperation on North Korea.
South Korea’s president said on Wednesday Japan’s export curbs on key materials used by South Korean technology firms could be prolonged and Seoul will help companies reduce their reliance on Japanese suppliers.
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