Former leader calls Park ‘tattletale’

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Former leader calls Park ‘tattletale’

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda compared President Park Geun-hye to a petty schoolgirl for “tattling” to other countries about Japanese behavior she disapproves of.

In an interview published yesterday by the Mainichi Shimbun, Noda said, “The Korean leader goes to the United States and Europe and conducts ‘tattletale diplomacy,’ criticizing Japan just like some schoolgirl.”

Noda, a member of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, served as prime minister from 2011-12, preceding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The issue arose when he was asked about Abe talking to other foreign leaders about the need to keep China’s growing naval power in check.

Noda compared Abe’s behavior with Park’s.

“China may be of a like mind as well,” Noda added. “It will be beneficial for both sides [Abe and Park] to stop such tattletale diplomacy.”

Noda’s remarks came as a surprise, especially since he is not a member of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, with its far right wing.

“It is surprising for someone who has spent time as a prime minister to make such thoughtless remarks going beyond breaking diplomatic customs,” Kwon Chul-hyun, chairman of the Sejong Foundation and former ambassador to Japan, said. “It appears he is not aware how one thoughtless remark can cause a deep injury and fray the relationship between two countries.”

A Korean Embassy official in Tokyo said: “Speaking of another country’s leader in such a manner only shows the class of the person.” The Blue House refused to comment.

Relations between Seoul and Tokyo continue to spiral downward after Abe’s Dec. 26 visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war dead including 14 Class-A war criminals. Abe’s visit has drawn criticism from Seoul, Beijing and Washington.

Japan and France held a “2 plus 2” meeting of foreign and defense ministers in Paris on Thursday, in which French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is said to have relayed to Japanese envoys that Tokyo needs to build friendships with other nations and recover from its violent past.

“It’s a memorial and it’s a very delicate matter,” Fabius said to reporters on Thursday regarding Abe’s visit to Yasukuni and historical issues. “These things have to be resolved through the work of historians, public opinion and with respect for others,”

In Paris, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida tried to defend Abe’s actions, stating that all world leaders “should pray for the soldiers who gave their lives for their country” and that Abe had apologized to anyone who was offended.

In an interview with Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera conducted recently in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticized Abe’s Yasukuni visit with strong words.

He said that paying “homage” at the shrine “is a symbol of militaristic aggression,” adding, “all the exhibits in the shrine are designed to justify Japan’s decision to launch that war of aggression at the time.

Even worse, Wang said, Abe regarded the war criminals as “the souls of the war dead,” which he called “an attempt to whitewash Japan’s war of aggression” and a “challenge to the just trial of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.”

During her visit to Europe in November, President Park emphasized the deep rift between Japan and Korea and called on Japan to apologize for its wartime atrocities.

She addressed outstanding issues with Japan, such as compensation for the so-called comfort women, or sex slaves of the Japanese military, during World War II. In an interview with the BBC, she questioned “what purpose a summit would serve if Japan continues to stick by its same historical perceptions,” adding, “perhaps it would be better not to have one.”

A summit between Park and Abe has been stalled indefinitely.

BY SARAH KIM, SEO SEUNG-WOOK [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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