January 23, 2013 12:35
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided not to attend president-elect Park Geun-hye's inauguration on Feb. 25, Japanese media reported Tuesday. Kyodo News said Abe will not go because he has not been invited.
Park has invited no foreign leaders to her inauguration, only foreign diplomats in Seoul.
In 2003, the Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi attended president Roh Moo-hyun's inauguration, while Yasuda Fukuda flew to Seoul to attend President Lee Myung-bak's inauguration in 2008.
Mindful of those precedents, Abe sent former finance minister Fukushiro Nukaga as a special envoy to Park on Jan. 4, and mulled attending her inauguration, according to Japanese media.
An official close to Park said no foreign leaders were on the list of invited guests. "We cannot stop foreign leaders attending if they want to, but there are no foreign leaders who have said they will come," the official said.
But protocol is apparently not the only reason behind Abe's decision. Officially, only foreign diplomats in Seoul were invited to Lee's inauguration too, but Fukuda said he wanted to attend and Lee accepted, leading to a summit following the inauguration.
The lack of enthusiasm shown by both Park and Abe appears to reflect soured relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
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