Without a summit, the South Korean president will not participate in the Olympics


The announcement by Moon’s office came days after the South Korean Foreign Ministry summoned Japanese Ambassador Koichi Aiboshi on Saturday to protest the comments made by another senior Japanese diplomat who, according to him, said. a local broadcaster, used obscene language with its reporters to ridicule Moon’s hopes of using the Olympics to improve relations.

According to JTBC, Hirohisa Soma, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese embassy, ​​said that Moon would “masturbate” if he thought he would have a summit during the Olympics, saying Suga had more to do than relationships. South Korea-Japan.

When asked if the incident influenced Moon’s decision not to attend the Olympics, a senior South Korean presidential official admitted that the “internal atmosphere” at the Blue House “had turned to skepticism. “after the JTBC report. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity during a substantive briefing, did not provide details of discussions with Japan over arranging Moon’s visit.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said in a briefing that Soma’s remarks were “extremely inappropriate,” but added that no decision had been made on whether he would be removed from office. its current functions.

The South Korean government delegation to the Olympics will be led by Hwang Hee, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

“The Tokyo Olympics are a celebration of peace for people all over the world, and we hope that Japan will host the Olympics safely and successfully,” said Park Soo Hyun, spokesperson for Moon, reading a statement on television. “We also hope that our athletes, despite the difficult conditions, fully display the skills they have developed in competition and return home healthy.”

Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have been strained since the Supreme Court of South Korea in 2018 ordered some Japanese companies to compensate Korean forced laborers for their hardships during the 1910-1945 Japanese colonial rule on the Korean peninsula. The decisions led to further trade tensions when Japan imposed export controls on chemicals essential to South Korea’s semiconductor industry in 2019.

Seoul accused Tokyo of militarizing trade and threatened to end a military intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo that was a major symbol of their trilateral security cooperation with Washington. South Korea eventually backed down and continued with the deal after coming under pressure from the Trump administration, which until then seemed content to let its allies escalate their feud in public.

The countries have been trying to improve their relations since the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, who called for enhanced tripartite cooperation in the face of North Korean nuclear threats and challenges posed by China. But progress has been slow and friction between countries continued as the Olympics approached.

Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international studies at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, said South Korea and Japan missed an easy opportunity to signal their willingness to improve relations.

“The Moon administration has not made enough progress domestically to address the legal and historical challenges of diplomacy. Meanwhile, the Suga government has mismanaged the situation by insufficiently prioritizing Korea to the point of lack of courtesy, ”Easley said.

“Members of the Biden administration are undoubtedly disappointed as the leaders of North Korea and China rejoice in the disunity of US allies.”

Also on Saturday, the South Korean Olympic Committee removed banners from the Olympic Athletes’ Village in Tokyo referring to a 16th-century Korean Navy admiral who repelled an invading Japanese fleet after the International Olympic Committee ruled that ‘they were provocative.

In agreeing to remove the banners, the South Koreans said they had received from the IOC a promise that the display of the Japanese flag of the “rising sun” will be banned in stadiums and other Olympic venues. The flag, depicting a red sun with 16 rays extending outward, is felt by many in South Korea and other parts of Asia who see it as a symbol of Japan’s wartime past. ___

Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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