In the latest sign of tension between South Korea and Japan, the luxury Lotte Hotel in Seoul has refused to hold a reception by the Japanese embassy to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.
Hotel officials said the party, which was scheduled for Friday night and which is usually held each year at the Lotte, was canceled Thursday in the interest of public safety, the Sankei Shimbun reported. It quoted a hotel spokesperson as saying they had received threats and protests for agreeing to host the party, and were concerned about demonstrations. The reception will now be held at the Japanese embassy.
On Thursday, an editorial in the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper was critical of the reception. Editorial writer Han Ki-heung said: "The Self-Defense Forces use the Rising Sun flag. Red rays stretch out from a red circle representing the sun. The military flag, which was used under Japanese militarism, was waved at the forefront of invasion. It is natural that the Asian countries invaded by Japan are sensitive to the flag. Japan`s Maritime Self-Defense Forces still use the naval flag of the Japanese empire and the Ground Self-Defense Forces use the flag with eight rays, a slight variation from the old flag with 16 rays."
Han went on to say: "The Japanese Embassy to Korea holds the 60th anniversary of the Self-Defense Forces at Lotte Hotel, Seoul. It sent invitations to some 500 people including Korean dignitaries from different sectors and foreign diplomats, but few Koreans are likely to attend the event due to the strained relationship between Korea and Japan. Is Japan holding such an event in the middle of Seoul because it does not know what is going on or does not care about it at all?"
In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a news conference Friday that the Lotte Hotel's decision to cancel the reception at short notice was deplorable, Sankei Shimbun reported. He said that the embassy, which often uses the Lotte for various events, has made an official protest to the hotel.© Japan Today