by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 14, 2012
There are no plans for a Japan-China-South Korea summit on the sidelines of a regional gathering, a Japanese official said Wednesday, amid continued strained relations between Tokyo and its neighbours.
China, the putative host of this year's talks, has not yet organised the customary annual meeting at the upcoming get-together of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Cambodia, a Japanese diplomat said.
"China, as the chair nation, is the one that should make arrangements for the meeting this time," he told AFP. "Nothing firm has been decided, yet."
South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said: "No agreement has been reached among the three nations to hold a Korea-China-Japan summit on the sidelines of the upcoming ASEAN meeting."
"At this point, there is no plan to hold a summit," he added.
The leaders of the three East Asian giants have held the three-way talks almost every year since 1999 on the sidelines of the annual ASEAN summit meetings.
The exception was 2005, with only a "warm" conversation among the three, with China and South Korea angered by the continued visits to a Tokyo war shrine by Japan's then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
The chances of the confab taking place this year in Cambodia are seemingly small, with relations soured by separate territorial disputes.
Seoul and Tokyo are at odds over a pair of islands in the sea between the two countries, while Japan and China are in dispute over a small archipelago in the East China Sea.
Japan's nationalisation of the islands in September infuriated China, where violent street demonstrations damaged Japanese businesses and consumers have subsequently boycotted Japanese products.
Japanese media said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was still expected to meet South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak while the two were in Cambodia.
The ASEAN summit will come at a sensitive political time for the three nations, which are all going through leadership changes.
In Beijing, the ruling Communist Party has been holding a congress since last Thursday to select its new leadership slate, with Vice President Xi Jinping seen as the most likely person to lead the world's second largest economy for the next decade.
South Korea's presidential election is also in a full swing with voting scheduled for December 19.
Japan's Noda on Wednesday said he would dissolve parliament this week, most likely presaging an election later this year, which he is seen as likely to lose.
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