South Korea on Monday announced that President Moon Jae-in will not visit Japan this week, ending days of speculations about whether the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games would include a summit between the two leaders. “President Moon Jae-in has decided not to visit Japan on the occasion of the Tokyo summer Olympics,” South Korea’s presidential Blue House announced in a statement Tuesday, confirming the official scrapping of what would have been Moon’s first in-person summit with his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga.
The relations between the two neighbouring countries soured over the ‘unacceptable and lewd’ remark made by a Japanese diplomat at Japan's embassy in Seoul in regard to the South Korean President. The said envoy described Moon's efforts to improve the countries' relations as “masturbating,” which the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga labelled as “inappropriate”.
Moon’s top aide for public affairs, Park Soo-Hyun, on July 20 said in a media statement, “President Moon has decided not to visit Japan," adding that the two governments have had “meaningful discussions on ways to move forward in pending history-related issues and on future-oriented cooperation.”
Moon's press secretary, further stated, that both countries gave shots at exploring ways to tackle rows and boost cooperation but hit a deadlock. "The discussions were held amicably and made considerable progress, but it still fell short of being considered as a summit result, and we took other circumstances into account," Park told presser, without delving into details. Suga, meanwhile, declined to comment on Moon’s decision with the Japanese press reporters.
Moon’s Presidential office elaborated that the President’s trip was called off as he had “grown sceptical" about his potential visit and he will instead send his culture minister to Friday's opening ceremony as the head of the Korean delegation. The two neighbours have been at loggerhead since the controversy surrounding the compensation orders for the Korean women who were coerced to work in military brothels during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule. A separate spat over the map on the Tokyo Olympics website which showed Korea-controlled Islands as Japanese territory thwarted the bilateral relations further.