| The possibility is growing that the leaders of South Korea, the United States and Japan will hold a three-way summit on the sidelines of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit to be held in the Hague, the Netherlands next week.
"Washington is has a strong will to gather the leaders of the three countries at one place and has induced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe`s recent remark that he will not disown the Kono Statement," in which Tokyo apologized for World War II sex slave for the Japanese military, a senior South Korean government official said Wednesday. "There is an increasing possibility that the three leaders will meet in the form of a three-way summit." If the summit is held, it would be South Korean President Park Geun-hye`s first summit with the Japanese prime minister.
A three-way summit serves the interest of all the three countries. Washington can expect to show off the ties with its traditional allies in Northeast Asia before U.S. President Barack Obama`s planned visit to Seoul and Tokyo in late April. For South Korea, which feels burdened about a bilateral summit with Japan, a three-way meeting can reduce the burden. A Seoul official said that a key agenda for the three-way summit will likely be coordination over the North Korean nuclear issue.
Tokyo has postponed the announcement of its review of elementary school history textbooks until early April from March 26, indicating its intention to not stimulate Seoul before the summit. Japanese daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported Wednesday that the three countries were in final fine-tuning of a plan to hold a three-way summit.
Three-way summits among the three allies were held during each of the Kim Dae-jung, Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Myung-bak administrations in South Korea on the sidelines of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits to discuss the North Korean nuclear issues for about 40 minutes.
However, the summit schedule has yet to be concluded. There is a strong voice in Seoul that Tokyo has not shown enough sincerity to justify a summit. Seoul strongly believes that Tokyo should create an environment for a summit or ensure the Japanese prime minister`s more progressive remarks. "The remarks about succeeding to the Kono Statement are not enough," said an official at the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. "We are watching Japan`s attitude while keeping the possibility of a summit open."
Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported Wednesday that the country`s Deputy Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki delivered a message to Seoul that Tokyo was willing to hold a director general-level talks with South Korea over the wartime sex slavery issue during his meeting with his South Korean counterpart in Seoul last week.