TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to leave office without holding a phone meeting with the leaders of China and South Korea, symbolic of his country’s recent chilly relations with its East Asian neighbors.
Abe, who will step down on Wednesday, has been calling leaders around the world since announcing his resignation on Aug. 28. He spoke with US President Donald Trump on Aug. 31, and has since called leaders of over 10 countries, including Russia, Canada, Britain and the Philippines.
In the calls, Abe told the leaders of his intention to step down. The leaders returned words of appreciation, with Trump hailing Abe as his closest friend.
But calls with the leaders of China and South Korea are unlikely to happen, a senior Japanese government official said.
Japan-China ties had been improving in recent years, but Beijing’s tighter control over Hong Kong and other factors have led to the postponement of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Japan.
Tokyo has had no communication with South Korean President Moon Jae-in as relations between the two countries are at their worst since the end of World War II due to history and other issues.
Whether Japan can improve ties with the neighbors is up to Yoshihide Suga, who is set to become the next prime minister.