This composite photo provided by Yonhap News TV shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. (Yonhap News TV)
SEOUL/TOKYO -- President Moon Jae-in has decided not to visit Japan this week, as no satisfactory accomplishment is expected in proposed summit talks, Cheong Wa Dae announced Monday.
Moon had considered a trip to Tokyo for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday. South Korea and Japan had consultations on the possibility of holding the first face-to-face summit between Moon and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on the occasion.
The two sides "had meaningful discussions on progress regarding historical issues and future-oriented cooperation," according to Cheong Wa Dae.
Although the consultations produced a "significant level" of mutual understanding, the extent of the progress was deemed "still insufficient" to indicate an accomplishment at the summit talks, the office said.
In addition, various other situations have been comprehensively considered for the decision, it added.
Moon's office expressed hope that Japan will host the Olympics, a festival of peace for people around the world, safely and successfully.
Earlier in the day, a senior Cheong Wa Dae official cited an "obstacle" that emerged in the last phase of preparatory talks, apparently referring to inappropriate comments made by a high-level Japanese diplomat here against Moon.
Hirohisa Soma, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy, reportedly told a South Korean reporter that Moon's diplomatic efforts with Japan are tantamount to "masturbating." He was quoted as saying that Japan "does not have the time to care so much about the relationship between the two countries as South Korea thinks."
Opinion polls show that many South Koreans are opposed to Moon making a trip to Tokyo to attend the ceremony slated for Friday.
Cheong Wa Dae has openly set a guarantee of making meaningful accomplishments in summit talks a precondition for Moon's possible trip to Japan. Seoul is seeking a resolution to longstanding disputes over shared history and Tokyo's unilateral export curbs launched in 2019.
Relations between the neighboring countries have remained at a low point due primarily to the thorny issue of compensating Korean victims of forced labor and sexual enslavement by Japan during its colonial rule from 1910-45.
US President Joe Biden's administration has been pushing to bring the two Asian allies closer for stronger trilateral cooperation in the region. (Yonhap)