In a move that may be seen by some as a reflection of the deteriorating relationship between the two countries, South Korean president-elect Park Geun-Hye turned down a proposed visit by a special envoy sent by soon-to-be Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Abe, whose Liberal Democratic Party, returned to power in last week’s general elections in Japan, was supposed to send former Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga and three other members of the Japan-South Korea parliamentarians’ league to bring to Park his congratulatory letter, a gesture of his intent to mend ties between Japan and South Korea. Park’s side, however, respectfully declined the meeting due to her busy schedule and suggested rescheduling after Abe’s inauguration on December 26. The letter was delivered to Park by Koro Bessho, Japan’s ambassador to South Korea. Members from Park’s Saenuri Party say there was no political motivation for declining the meeting.
Some observers, however, say that Park should have taken into account the fragile situation between the countries and of Abe’s hawkish reputation regarding nationalism. Besides war crimes committed during the Japanese colonial rule, the two countries are currently deadlocked on a territorial dispute over a pair of islands called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in Korea. Abe seems to be considering shelving plans to elevate Takeshima Day on February 22 from local to national level, probably in consideration of Park’s inauguration scheduled on February 25. Abe, however, is yet to announce a decision regarding the issue. Given these factors, it would have probably been better if the two leaders started discussions sooner rather than later.[ via China Daily ]