South Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday dismissed Japan’s protest against the presence of one of the victims of Japan’s World War II sex slavery at a state dinner for visiting U.S. President Donald Trump.
Seoul’s foreign ministry spokesperson Noh Kyu-duk told a press briefing that it was not appropriate for Japan to take the issue with whom was invited and what food was served at the state dinner as it is a matter that should be determined by Seoul after comprehensively considering all factors.
The spokesperson said the South Korean government delivered its stance through diplomatic channels to the Japanese side.
Lee Yong-soo, 88, one of the South Korean victims of Japan’s wartime sex enslavement, was invited to the banquet on Tuesday at the presidential Blue House of South Korea for Trump who made a state visit to Seoul through on Wednesday.
According to local TV footage, the 88-year-old victim hugged Trump when entering the banquet venue.
The “Dokdo Shrimp’’ was also served at the state dinner for the U.S. president, named after Dokdo, the easternmost islets of South Korea which Japan has also laid a territorial claim to.
South Korean people regarded Japan’s sovereign claim to Dokdo, called Takeshima in Japan, as a militaristic ambition of the current Japanese government as the islets were returned to South Korea after having been incorporated into the Japanese territory during the 1910 to1945 Japanese colonisation of the Korean Peninsula.
Japan reportedly protested against the Dokdo Shrimp, which was caught in waters off the rocky outcroppings lying halfway between South Korea and Japan as it was served at the banquet for Trump.
It also allegedly criticised the presence of the wartime sex slavery victim, saying it breached the agreement reached between South Korea and Japan in December 2015 to settle the comfort women issue permanently.
Under the agreement between the previous South Korean government and the Shinzo Abe cabinet, Seoul accepted a final, irreversible settlement on the sex slavery issue in return for Japan’s contribution of 9 million U.S. dollars to a foundation supporting the sex servitude victims in South Korea.
The Moon Jae-in government, which was inaugurated in May, was reviewing how the agreement was reached under the previous administration, saying it ran contrary to public consensus.
The comfort women are a euphemism for women who were forced into sex servitude for Japanese military brothels during the World War II.
Historians said that over 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, fell victim to Japan’s wartime crime against humanity.