Fri, 30 Jul 2021

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korean President Moon Jae-in has canceled his first summit with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga due to comments made by a senior diplomat at Japan's embassy in Seoul.

The cancelation of the summit came after Seoul delivered a protest following news reports on Friday that a senior diplomat at Japan's embassy used vulgarities to describe Moon.

"President Moon has decided not to visit Japan," Moon's press secretary, Park Soo-hyun, told a briefing, as quoted by Reuters.

Concerns to have been discussed between Japan and South Korea included ways to tackle rows over history and boost cooperation.

Suga has not commented on Moon's decision, but described the Japanese diplomat's remarks as "inappropriate."

Moon's office said his staff became "skeptical" about his planned trip after the Japanese diplomat's "unacceptable" comment.

The summit was to have coincided with Moon attending the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. Instead, Seoul will send the nation's culture minister to Friday's opening ceremony as head of the Korean delegation.
South Korea also wished Japan safe and successful Olympics.

Meanwhile, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Tokyo's ambassador in Seoul had cautioned his deputy over his "regrettable" remarks. There was no word about disciplinary actions taken against the staff member.

South Korea's vice foreign minister, Choi Jong-kun, summoned the Japanese ambassador on Saturday to protest the Japanese embassy staff member's use of vulgarity.

Moon's office acknowledged Kato's comment, but called for Tokyo to take steps to prevent future incidents.

Suga recently described relations between Japan and South Korea as "very difficult."

Moon had earlier said that the Olympics might offer an opportunity for North and South Korea to improve relations and revive peace talks. However, North Korea is not attending the Olympics due to the Covid pandemic, officials said.

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