Korea-Japan events on ice after Abe visits shrine

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Korea-Japan events on ice after Abe visits shrine

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s abrupt visit to the notorious war shrine of Yasukuni on Thursday has frozen the already aggravated relationship between Korea and Japan. The Korean government has tentatively suspended the entire chain of upcoming defense and diplomatic events with its Japanese counterparts.

“I wonder what kind of military exchange can be possible on the basis of Japan’s behavioral pattern, which is far from trustworthy,” Wi Yong-sup, deputy spokesman with the Ministry of Defense, said late Friday.

The Korean government has canceled a strategy meeting of vice ministers of foreign affairs from the two countries, scheduled for next month. A planned security policy meeting between the high-ranking foreign affairs ministries and defense ministries of Korea and Japan has also been broken up.

The meetings were set with the vague hope that the two countries could initiate a working-level conversation to improve ties, but Abe’s abrupt tribute to the war criminals at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo has practically killed that potential.

President Park Geun-hye and Abe will probably bump into each other at a multilateral meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next month. Political observers had expected the two leaders to exchange words, but now it is highly likely that Park will again turn away from her Japanese counterpart, as she did throughout this year.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]


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