The Japanese Embassy in Seoul expressed its regret on Friday over a South Korean hotel's refusal to host a key Japanese anniversary event.
The Japanese Embassy has annually held the event marking the foundation of Japan's self-defense forces at Lotte Hotel, one of the major hotel chains in South Korea.
Still, the hotel canceled the embassy's reservation on Thursday afternoon without providing an exact reason, the embassy said, adding it was the first time the hotel canceled the reservation.
The rare move by the hotel comes amid heightened tensions between the two neighbors over the Japanese leader's nationalistic policies and Tokyo's recent move to expand the role of its military.
"It is such a regret that they unilaterally canceled it just one day before the event," an official from the embassy told Yonhap News Agency.
The official said the embassy changed the venue to the ambassador's residence to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Japanese forces.
A spokeswoman for Lotte Hotel said her hotel canceled the reservation in consideration of public sentiment, adding that the embassy had planned a larger event this year, compared with last year's quiet one.
Asked whether the decision may hurt the hotel's brisk sales to Japanese tourists, the spokeswoman declined to comment and asked not be identified, citing policy.
A South Korean military officer plans to attend the anniversary event as "a minimum-level diplomatic gesture," defense ministry vice spokesman Wi Yong-seop told a regular briefing.
South Korea and Japan are close trade partners, though many South Koreans still harbor deep resentment against Japan over its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)