Japan And South Korea Are Fighting Over Dessert Just Days Before A Major Geopolitical Moment In Northeast Asia


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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Japan and South Korea are locked in a heated dispute over dessert as the latter prepares for a landmark leadership summit with its neighbors to the North.

On the menu for the upcoming inter-Korean summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a mango mousse with a picture of the Korean peninsula that includes a contested territory known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.

Tokyo lodged a formal protest Tuesday, stating that it “cannot accept” such a dessert being served at the inter-Korean summit. “Given our position on Takeshima, this is totally unacceptable and extremely regrettable,” the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs argued. The Japanese Embassy in Seoul also protested the decision to serve a dessert featuring the undesirable image, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Japan expressed concerns about this particular issue during the Olympics, pointing to the disputed islands on the inter-Korean flags. Tokyo also protested when South Korea served “Dokdo shrimp” at a dinner for President Donald Trump in Seoul in November.

South Korean media reports slammed Japan for “making unreasonable demands at other people’s party.” Seoul, however, has yet to issue a response to Japanese demands.

The Takeshima and Dokdo issue, along with others, has long been an obstacle to improve bilateral relations between South Korea and Japan. However, the latest dispute highlights the delicate nature of the diplomatic dance going on in Northeast Asia.

Moon and Kim are expected to meet on April 27 to discuss possibilities for permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, but any peaceful solution has far-reaching implications for the region, with multiple countries expressing varied aspirations.

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