Japan's government has complained to a hotel in Seoul after it cancelled a reception planned for yesterday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of Japan's self-defence forces.
The Lotte hotel decided not to host the event because there were fears protests could erupt near the venue during the ceremony, hotel manager Lee Da-bae said. Any incidents could threaten the safety of other hotel guests, she said.
"Whatever the reason, it is extremely regrettable that the hotel took this kind of action the day before," Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said in Tokyo. "We want to convey our strong concern to the South Korean government," he said, adding that Japan's embassy in Seoul had protested to the hotel.
Asked about the spread of negative sentiment in government-to-government ties into the private sector, Suga called on the South Korean public to "calmly respond to" developments involving the two countries.
Unease is rising in South Korea over moves by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bolster the country's security stance by reinterpreting its pacifist constitution to allow it to defend allies.
The hotel said it had been bombarded with calls of protest and threats over the planned reception. The hotel has been the venue for the event almost every year in recent years.
After the hotel told the Japanese embassy on Thursday night of the cancellation, the embassy decided to move the reception to the ambassador's residence.
Additional reporting by Associated Press