Monday, September 20, 2021

South Korea president to skip Olympics after ‘masturbating’ remark by Japanese diplomat

Relations between Seoul and Tokyo are strained over compensation for Japan's wartime behaviour while occupying the Korean peninsula.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in has scrapped plans to attend the Tokyo Summer Olympics and meet Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, his office said on Monday.

The reason is apparently that a rather undiplomatic senior Japanese diplomat said Moon was “masturbating” if he thought he’d get a summit with Suga.

The two countries had been in talks about holding a top-level encounter during the Games to improve relations that have plunged to their worst level in years over unburied historical disputes.

But things went sour after a Japanese diplomat at the embassy in Seoul reportedly likened the South Korean president’s efforts to pleasuring himself.

“President Moon is masturbating himself,” deputy ambassador Hirohisa Soma told a reporter at a South Korean cable news station on Friday, according to the London Times.

“Japan does not have the time to care so much about the relationship between the two countries as South Korea thinks.”

The Japanese ambassador reprimanded his deputy for his “highly inappropriate” comments, but a Seoul government official on Monday said the comment was “difficult to tolerate”.

In Tokyo, Suga voiced “regret” over the comments, telling reporters: “They are extremely inappropriate remarks.”

He added: “Regardless, we want to firmly communicate with the South Korean side, to bring the Japan-South Korean relationship to a sound place.”

Kyodo News, quoting an unnamed government source, reported that Tokyo plans to “remove” Soma from his role because of his controversial remarks.

Relations between Japan and South Korea, both major US allies, are strained by ongoing disputes over compensation for Japan’s early-20th-century colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.

Although Seoul and Tokyo have managed to have “meaningful discussions” on some sensitive historical issues, the progress was deemed “still insufficient,” the Blue House said.

The AP is reporting that at the weekend South Korea’s Olympic Committee removed banners at the Olympic athletes’ village in Tokyo that referred to a 16th-century Korean naval admiral who fought off an invading Japanese fleet.

They did so after the International Olympic Committee ruled the banners were provocative.

In agreeing to take down the banners, the South Koreans said they had received a promise from the IOC that displays of the Japanese “rising sun” flag will be banned at stadiums and other Olympic venues.

The flag, portraying a red sun with 16 rays extending outward, is resented by many people in South Korea and other parts of Asia who see it as a symbol of Japan’s wartime past.

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