Japan finance chief postpones Seoul visit over spat

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 16, 2012 10:44 PM
Japan finance chief postpones Seoul visit over spat

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said on Friday he would postpone a planned visit to South Korea this month due to President Lee Myung-bak's visit to a disputed island and remarks concerning Japan's Emperor Akihito.

Azumi said he had intended to visit South Korea from August 24 to hold a bilateral finance dialogue with his counterpart, but would postpone the trip, saying he "cannot overlook" Lee's visit to an island claimed by both Tokyo and Seoul and remarks on the emperor.

Azumi, speaking at a news conference after a cabinet meeting, also said he would review a bilateral currency swap arrangement which was reached last October.

South Korea's Lee warned on Wednesday warned that conflicts over a bitter shared history were complicating ties with former colonial master Japan.

On Tuesday, Lee told a meeting of teachers that Akihito should apologize sincerely if he wants to visit South Korea, saying a repeat of his 1990 expression of "deepest regrets" would not suffice.

Separately, Japan was poised to deport 14 Chinese activists on Friday after detaining them when some of them landed on an island claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing, media reports from both countries said, a move that could ease tension between Asia's two largest economies.

Underscoring how history haunts Japan's ties with neighboring South Korea and China, two Japanese cabinet ministers paid homage at a controversial Tokyo shrine for the war dead on Wednesday, the 67th anniversary of the end of World War Two. (Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Michael Watson)