TOKYO: Japan is postponing a summit with China and South Korea, the government said Tuesday, after the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.
The Asian powers were planning to hold an annual trilateral gathering this month in Japan, which is the rotating chair.
South Korea’s parliament voted Friday to impeach Park, who is engulfed in a scandal over her friendship with a long-time confidante charged with meddling in state affairs.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, while not directly mentioning Park’s impeachment, said “various factors” were behind the decision.
“We decided to re-arrange it and hold the summit at an appropriate time next year,” he told reporters after a regular cabinet meeting.
South Korea’s foreign ministry confirmed the postponement, with a spokesperson in Seoul saying only that the three sides “had difficulty setting a date this year”.
China, meanwhile, said it was important to keep up the “momentum” of three-way cooperation.
“We believe that the summit should be held when the timing and conditions are convenient for all three countries and should be able to reach positive outcomes,” said Geng Shuang, a foreign ministry spokesman.
Park has been relieved of official duties as president and is awaiting a decision by the country’s Constitutional Court—a process that could take months—on whether she will have to permanently step down.
She has been replaced in the interim by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn.
Leaders of the three countries met in November last year in South Korea, marking the first trilateral summit since 2012.
The meetings had been on ice due largely to Tokyo’s often thorny relations with Beijing and Seoul over territorial issues and history. AFP