A dessert dish that South Korea plans to serve at Friday’s summit with the North has enraged Japan, which is demanding the “distasteful offering” not be served.
The mango mousse – dubbed “Spring of the People” in a publicity photograph — depicts the small islands known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in Korea — islets whose sovereignty is disputed by Tokyo. They lie in the Sea of Japan, which Seoul refers to as the East Sea.
“It is extremely regrettable,” a Japanese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday, adding that Japan had lodged a protest about the distasteful offering, according to Reuters. “We have asked that the dessert not be served.”
Japan complained to South Korea about fans waving a flag with a similar design at a recent friendly women’s ice hockey game at the Winter Paralympics between the combined Koreas team and Sweden.
The bitter controversy comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in prepare to meet to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program on Friday.
Relations between the Koreas and Japan have long been strained by territorial disputes and simmering resentment over Japanese colonization of the Korean peninsula in the first half of last century.
Tokyo has also protested against the erection of statues commemorating Korean women and girls forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II.
Seoul says that Tokyo has yet to apologize for its wartime actions.
But Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have vowed to present a united front and exert pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
The North-South summit in the village of Panmunjom is expected to be followed by a meeting between Kim and President Trump in May or June.
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