The president’s plan to visit the Tokyo Olympics was scrapped after the Japanese diplomat’s reports used lewd language to ridicule him.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will not visit Tokyo for the upcoming Olympics, canceling plans for what would be his first summit with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
The announcement came Monday after Seoul protested over a press release Friday that a former diplomat at the Japanese embassy in Seoul had said Moon was “masturbating” when describing his efforts to improve relations between the two countries.
“President Moon has decided not to visit Japan,” Moon’s press secretary, Soo-hyun, told the brief.
“As the Tokyo Olympics is a peaceful festival for all the people of the world, we hope that Japan will welcome it safely and successfully.”
The latest turmoil has further inflamed relations between the two nations in the fight for territorial claims and their history of war, dispelling all remaining hopes that the Tokyo Games could offer a new beginning for bilateral and regional cooperation. .
On Monday, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper announced Monday that Luna will meet Suga in Tokyo on Friday, in time for the start of the Olympics. But both governments immediately denied that a meeting had been finalized, Moon’s office citing a “last-minute obstacle.”
Japan had also planned to replace the Seoul-based diplomat after his comments reported on Luna, the newspaper said. Japan’s top government spokesman said the ambassador warned his deputy of his statements.
“The remarks were inappropriate as a diplomat, and we think that is very unfortunate,” Katsunobu Kato, secretary of the Cabinet, told a regular briefing. Asked about the report on the removal of the diplomat, Kato said it was an issue for the Foreign Minister and did not provide further details.
A summit between the two leaders had not been decided, but if Moon decides to visit, Japan will host him, Kato added. Choi Jong-kun, South Korea’s deputy foreign minister, summoned Japan’s ambassador Koichi Aiboshi on Saturday to protest.
Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have been strained since the South Korean Supreme Court in 2018 ordered certain Japanese companies to compensate Korean forced laborers for their trials during Japan’s colonial rule 1910-1945 in the Korean peninsula.
The decisions led to further tensions over trade when Japan imposed export controls on vital chemicals for South Korea’s semiconductor industry in 2019.
Seoul has accused Tokyo of arming the trade and threatened to end a military intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo that was a major symbol of its trilateral security cooperation with Washington.
South Korea has finally withdrawn and continued the deal after being pressured by the Trump administration, which until then seemed happy to let its allies scale its fire in public.
The countries have been trying to improve relations since the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, who called for three times stronger cooperation in the face of North Korean nuclear threats and the challenges posed by China. But progress has been slow and friction between countries has continued as the Olympics approach.
Saturday, South Korea Olympic Committee banners removed in the Olympic athletes ’village in Tokyo which refers to a 16th-century Korean naval admiral who fought an invading Japanese fleet after the International Olympic Committee decided they were provocative.
Agreeing to remove the flags, South Koreans said they had received a promise from the CIO that the display of the Japanese “rising sun” flag would be banned in stadiums and other Olympic venues.
The flag, which represents a red sun with 16 rays extending outwards, is resented by many people in South Korea and other parts of Asia who see it as a symbol of the war’s past. of Japan.