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Japan unlikely to invite S. Korea to fleet review: Japanese media

Defense 11:16 June 26, 2019

SEOUL, June 26 (Yonhap) -- Japan is unlikely to invite South Korea to attend a fleet review set to be held in October amid frayed relations between the two countries over history and other issues, Japanese media reported Wednesday.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun report, Japan's self-defense force plans to send invitations to the United States, Australia, India and China, but not to South Korea, for the Oct. 14 fleet review to be held in Sagami Bay, near Tokyo.

Japan holds such a review every three to four years. The last one was held in 2015, and the South's Navy sent the Daejoyeong destroyer to the event.

"Whether to invite (South Korea) or not is up to the decision of the organizer. We will make a decision on our participation after we get an invitation," an official at Seoul's defense ministry said.

Defenses ties between Seoul and Tokyo have deteriorated particularly since last December when Japan claimed that a South Korean destroyer locked a targeting radar on its surveillance plane. But South Korea dismissed that, saying the plane needlessly approached the ship, which was on a normal rescue mission.

Amid lingering tensions, Japan skipped the multinational maritime drills held in South Korea in April.

The Yomiuri report came one day after South Korea's presidential office said that President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are not expected to hold a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Osaka later this week.

Officials said the South is ready for such a meeting, but Japan doesn't seem to be.

Tokyo has strongly protested last year's South Korean Supreme Court rulings that ordered Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of wartime forced labor, claiming all such reparation issues were settled under a 1965 treaty on normalizing the countries' ties.

In an effort to resolve the row, South Korea proposed last week that companies of not only Japan but also South Korea create a joint fund to compensate victims, but Tokyo immediately rejected the proposal.


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