TOKYO (Sputnik) – Japan has recalled its deputy head of the mission to South Korea, Hirohisa Soma, over inappropriate remarks about the hosting country’s president, the Kyodo news agency reported on Sunday, citing a Japanese government source.
In mid-July, Soma was reported to have likened Moon Jae-in’s diplomatic effort to mend ties with Japan to “masturbating,” adding that Tokyo does not have the time to care so much about the bilateral relationship as South Korea thinks.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry has since sent a note of protest to Japan and reprimanded Japanese Ambassador to Koichi Aiboshi over the “extremely inappropriate remark.”
Moon, in turn, canceled the visit to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where he planned to have talks with the Japanese prime minister. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said that a top official in the presidential administration cited an “obstacle” that disrupted the high-level negotiations.
The two countries have not held summits since December 2019.
Relations between Japan and South Korea have been tense due to long-lasting debates over wartime compensation and the disputed Liancourt Rocks.