Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sought to have a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama before the Group of Seven (G-7) summit held Wednesday and Thursday in Brussels, only to be rejected. They only had five minutes of talks while standing. Observers say that the scene symbolically showed Washington`s rejection of Tokyo`s recent moves.
According to the Tokyo Shimbun on Friday, Abe arrived in Brussels on Tuesday to attend the G-7 summit. He sought to take advantage of the free time before the multilateral event to have a summit with Obama, but the U.S. did not respond. Eventually, the two leaders ended up talking to each other while standing in the middle of the G-7 summit. On the agenda were Japan`s recent agreement with North Korea to re-investigate the abduction issue and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. However, the two leaders could not have in-depth discussions.
An official at Tokyo`s foreign ministry told the Tokyo Shimbun that the U.S. declined Japan`s offer of talks because of Obama`s schedule. However, some analysts say that the rejection was Washington`s expression of its discomfort over Tokyo`s moves to improve ties with Moscow and Pyongyang, breaking away from the framework of international cooperation.
On Thursday, Obama told a news conference after the G-7 summit that the Russian economy is taking a beating from the current international sanctions. "If Russias provocations continue, its clear from our discussions here that the G-7 nations are ready to impose additional costs on Russia," he warned. The U.S. continued to push Russia hard over the Ukraine issue throughout the G-7 summit.
However, Abe told a separate news conference that he wanted to continue dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin to help Moscow "constructively" participate in various international issues. Moreover, Tokyo recently allowed Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the Russian State Duma and a close aide to Putin, to visit Japan, although he is subject to U.S. sanctions. Japan believes that it has to join hands with Russia to a certain extent in order to discuss the proposed return of Kuril Islands (Northern Territories to the Japanese) and check Russia from cooperating with China.
It is also highly likely that Obama was displeased because Japan pushed ahead with the agreement with North Korea, even after Pyongyang said it would not abandon its nuclear program.