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Finance chiefs from Japan, China, S. Korea to skip meeting


Finance chiefs from Japan, China and South Korea will not hold a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of an annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in early May in India, Japanese Finance Ministry officials said Friday.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the three countries were expected to meet on May 3, but host China has "very recently" told Japan it has decided not to hold the meeting this time, citing a lack of important agenda items for discussion, the officials said.

The move comes amid the deterioration in Japan's relations with China and South Korea.

Tokyo infuriated Beijing last September by purchasing a major part of a group of islets administrated by Tokyo, but claimed by Beijing, in the East China Sea. China did not send its finance chiefs to the International Monetary Fund's annual meetings held in Tokyo in October.

Tokyo's relations with Seoul have also been strained by a dispute over South Korean-controlled islands in the Sea of Japan, while recent visits by Japanese lawmakers to war-related Yasukuni Shrine -- which honors Class-A war criminals from World War II along with millions of Japan's war dead -- have further fueled diplomatic tensions.

Beijing and Seoul appeared particularly offended by the visit to the shrine by Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is expected to attend the ADB meeting.

Finance chiefs from the three nations launched the trilateral framework in 2000 and have held a meeting almost regularly on the sidelines of the ADB's annual meetings.

Amid heightening diplomatic tensions between Japan and the two Asian neighbors, finance ministers and central bank governors from Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will launch a new framework for financial cooperation, holding their first meeting on May 3 in New Delhi.

Finance chiefs from the 10-member ASEAN and the three East Asian nations will hold the so-called ASEAN-plus-three meeting as planned on May 3.

A planned trilateral summit involving the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea initially sought for May will likely be postponed due to China's calls for host Seoul to put it off.