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JAPAN-SOUTH KOREA

Japan's prime minister calls South Korea a 'foolish country': magazine report

"Korea is a foolish country that isnt able to negotiate", says Abe, according to Japanese magazine report

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 2:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 November, 2013, 2:25pm
 

South Korean internet users are fuming after a conservative Japanese magazine reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had called South Korea a "foolish country".

"China is an absurd country but it still knows diplomacy. Korea is a foolish country that isn't even able to negotiate," said Abe, according to a report published on Thursday in the Shukan Bunshun.

The article, entitled “Striking Korea’s weakness,” also revealed that Abe thought South Korean President Park Geun-hye was opposed to Japan because she had “treacherous subjects”, led by Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, around her.

The report, written by an anonymous reporter, did not describe when or where Abe had made the comments.

Tokyo has not released a statement on the article but was aware of the story and should the government make a statement it will be posted on the foreign ministry's website, the Japanese consulate in Hong Kong told the South China Morning Post.

Japan recently considered implementing unofficial economic sanctions against South Korea in response to a recent court ruling requiring Japanese companies to pay compensation to South Korean workers who were conscripted by Japan during the second world war, said the article.

On Thursday, however, Abe met with South Korean lawmakers in Tokyo and said he wanted to talk to President Park before the end of the year to normalise ties between the two nations, which have been tense due to a maritime territorial dispute and what Seoul sees as Japan’s attempt to whitewash its wartime atrocities.

The discrepancy between the article and Abe's public remarks has raised questions about the credibility of Shukan Bunshun, the most well-known conservative weekly magazine in Japan.

Nationalistic Japanese media outlets take advantage of anti-Korean sentiment and write dubious stories short on facts to boost circulation, argued South Korean media.

Shukan Bunshun’s article worsens Korea-Japan relations and we express our serious concerns,” said a statement released on Friday by a group of Korean lawmakers visiting Japan this week.

“The Japanese government should recognise the negative impact the article has on Korea-Japan relations, establish the facts and take responsible measures,” they urged.

Abe’s supposed comments in the article caused a stir in South Korea, where the report was the hottest keyword on its biggest internet search portal Naver on Friday morning.

Many South Korean internet users said Abe’s alleged remarks were “reckless” and “ludicrous” and expressed their concerns over what appears to be growing nationalism in Japan.

“Abe’s record of shifting the country towards the right is impressive, with its apparent readiness to go to war with China over a territorial dispute and its potential revision of the constitution to allow collective self-defence,” said a Twitter user with the account @JunghoonYoon.

“I’m angry but what he said is true,” said another user with the Twitter account @slo_walker. “The Park Geun-hye administration is a mess.”

Others were more ambivalent, saying the South Korean government has its problems but it was not Abe’s place to say so.

Tokyo has not released a statement on the article but was aware of the story and should the government make a statement it will be posted on the foreign ministry's website, the Japanese consulate in Hong Kong told the South China Morning Post.

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