SEOUL--A South Korean hotel banned a Japanese Embassy event while a museum in the capital scrapped a Japanese manga and anime exhibition, two last-minute decisions that underscore the woeful relationship between the countries.
The Japanese Embassy had planned to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Self-Defense Forces on July 11 at the hotel. But hotel officials told the embassy that the event was no longer welcome.
According to Yonhap News Agency, hotel officials revealed on July 10 that their decision was made after taking public sentiment into consideration.
South Korean media on June 10 carried negative reports about the scheduled event. Criticism also lingers in South Korea over the decision by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government to reinterpret the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense.
The Japanese Embassy has hosted events in Seoul every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the SDF. South Korean government officials as well as diplomats at foreign embassies in South Korea have attended these events.
Japanese Embassy officials, who confirmed that the hotel had informed them of the cancellation, said they are looking into the possibility of holding the event at a different venue to mark the 60th anniversary of the SDF.
But given the friction between Tokyo and Seoul, there is a strong possibility that no South Korean official will participate if the event is held elsewhere.
Also on June 10, the War Memorial of Korea said it was canceling a special exhibition related to the popular pirate manga and anime series “One Piece” that was slated to begin on July 12.
The museum cited images in the original manga that could be taken as the rising-sun flag, which is considered a symbol of Japanese militarism in South Korea.
Although the exhibition would not have displayed any images of the flag, officials said the exhibition would still be inappropriate for a museum that views the history of Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from a South Korean perspective.
Museum officials said they initially decided to hold the special exhibition because of the popularity of the “One Piece” anime TV program in South Korea.
However, because the War Memorial is partly funded by the central government, its status as a public facility led to the cancellation of the exhibition, they said.
According to the event organizer, about 5,000 people had made reservations to attend the exhibition. Consideration is now being given to hold the event at another location.
(This article was compiled from reports by Akihiko Kaise and Toru Higashioka.)
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