China and South Korea's Olympic teams arrive in Japan

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Reuters 19 July, 2021 - 07:51am 8 views

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Kyodo News Digest: July 19, 2021

Kyodo News Plus 19 July, 2021 - 08:27pm

The following is the latest list of selected news summaries by Kyodo News.

TOKYO - Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada said Monday he will leave the creative team for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics after admitting that he bullied children with disabilities many years ago.

The 52-year-old musician's resignation, coming just before Friday's opening ceremony, is the latest occurrence to beset the Olympics, which will be held mostly without spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic.

SEOUL - South Korean President Moon Jae In will not visit Japan for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday, the presidential office said Monday.

The Japanese government has been informed of the decision, sources close to Seoul and Tokyo said.

TOKYO - Mongolian sumo wrestler Terunofuji will be promoted to yokozuna after the Japan Sumo Association's Yokozuna Deliberation Council recommended his ascension to the sport's highest rank on Monday.

Terunofuji will officially be named the sport's 73rd yokozuna on Wednesday at an extraordinary meeting of the JSA's board of directors, a mere formality after the recommendation following his 14-1 record at the Nagoya Grand Sumo tournament that ended Sunday.

TOKYO - Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday a senior Japanese diplomat's sexually explicit remarks regarding South Korean President Moon Jae In were "extremely inappropriate."

Regarding South Korea's announcement that Moon will not visit Japan for the Tokyo Olympics, Suga told reporters he will seek to continue dialogue with Seoul to mend bilateral relations while maintaining Japan's "consistent position."

TOKYO - The Tokyo metropolitan government reported 727 new coronavirus cases Monday, dropping below the 1,000 mark for the first time in six days amid lingering concerns of a fifth wave of the virus ahead of the Olympics.

Infections in the capital had topped the 1,000 mark for five consecutive days until Sunday, when 1,008 new daily coronavirus cases were reported.

NAGOYA - Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it will not air TV commercials related to the Tokyo Olympics in Japan and its president Akio Toyoda will not attend the opening ceremony later this week of the global sporting event.

The decision by Toyota, one of the top corporate sponsors of the Olympics, may reflect the automaker's attempt to prevent its brand image from being tarnished as the games are going ahead despite strong public opposition and fears of a further spread of the coronavirus.

TOKYO - The Tokyo Olympic Games organizing committee said Monday it has identified 21 people as close contacts of the three South African men's soccer team members who tested positive for the coronavirus at the athletes' village.

The three -- players James Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi, as well as a video analyst -- are the first confirmed cases among Olympic teams at the village in Tokyo's waterfront area.

CHIBA, Japan - A female gymnast from the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus during her pre-Tokyo Olympic training camp, the city hosting the athlete said Monday.

The name of the athlete, who is in her teens, has been withheld by the city of Inzai, Chiba Prefecture, where she was training ahead of the opening of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.

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American Gymnastics Alternate Tests Positive at Olympics

VOA Asia 19 July, 2021 - 07:01pm

TOKYO - An alternate on the United States women's gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19 in an Olympic training camp in Japan.

Olympic champion Simone Biles was not affected, nor were any of the other favorites to win the team gold, but another alternate was placed into isolation because of contact tracing, USA Gymnastics said Monday.

"One of the replacement athletes for the women's artistic gymnastics team received a positive COVID test on Sunday, July 18. After reviewing the implemented COVID protocols with members of the delegation, the local government determined that the affected replacement athlete and one other replacement athlete would be subject to additional quarantine restrictions," the USAG statement said. "Accordingly, on Monday, the Olympic athletes moved to separate lodging accommodations and a separate training facility, as originally planned, and will continue their preparation for the Games. The entire delegation continues to be vigilant and will maintain strict protocols while they are in Tokyo."

The positive test was the latest in a growing line of daily reports of athletes and others testing positive at the pandemic-delayed Olympics. The unnamed gymnast was the first American.

"The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority. We can confirm that an alternate on the women's artistic gymnastics team tested positive for COVID-19," the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement. "In alignment with local rules and protocols, the athlete has been transferred to a hotel to quarantine. Out of respect for the individual's privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time."

The four alternates — Leanne Wong, Kayla DiCello, Emma Malabuyo and Kara Eaker — traveled to Japan with the six-woman U.S. delegation of Biles, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey.

The alternates are rooming and training together. While they have been traveling to training along with the actual team, they have been split into groups, with the team working on one apparatus while the alternates work on another.

The U.S. women's team dealt with what USA Gymnastics called a "false positive" over the weekend for an unidentified athlete but the ensuing test results for the athlete were negative, according to the organization.

The U.S. officials said the test took place when the team was training just outside Tokyo in Inzai City. Team members arrived last week for the camp to great fanfare at Narita airport.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Monday reported 727 new cases in the capital. It is the 30th straight day that cases were higher than the previous week. The cases last Monday were 502.

South Korean president to skip Tokyo Olympics after ‘masturbating’ comment

New York Daily News 19 July, 2021 - 02:35pm

Word that Moon would not make the trip to Japan follows Seoul’s objection to a Japanese diplomat’s alleged claim that South Korea’s leader’s attempt to improve his nation’s relationship with Japan was “masturbating,” Reuters reports.

“The discussions were held amicably and made considerable progress, but it still fell short of being considered as a summit result, and we took other circumstances into account,” Moon’s press secretary said Monday without blaming the masturbation comment for making the visit a no-go.

Suga has called the comment “inappropriate.” Moon’s office reportedly said it was “unacceptable.”

Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper reported Monday that Suga and Moon planned to meet in Tokyo, though both governments deny a deal was in place. Moon’s office noted a “last minute obstacle” had derailed a potential meeting. South Korea will send its culture minister to Japan to represent the nation when the Games begin Friday.

Tensions over the upcoming Olympics were reportedly at the heart of spat between the two nations earlier last month when the Tokyo Olympics website featured a map showing Korea-controlled islands as Japanese territories. Suga earlier acknowledged Japan’s relationship with South Korea was strained, but said the onus was on Moon to take responsibility for historical disagreements.

Moon had hoped to use the Olympic events to strengthen South Korea’s relationship with North Korea too, but its neighbors to the north withdrew its athletes from the games amid COVID-19 concerns.

South Korea’s Moon scraps Olympic visit after diplomat’s ‘unacceptable’ remark

The Washington Post 19 July, 2021 - 07:54am

“President Moon has decided not to visit Japan,” Park Soo-hyun, Moon’s press secretary, told a news conference, adding that the two sides had been exploring ways to tackle rows over history and boost cooperation but did not reach agreement.

“The discussions were held amicably and made considerable progress, but it still fell short of being considered as a summit result, and we took other circumstances into account,” Park said.

The two countries had been talking about holding a first-ever summit between Moon and Suga to try to repair relations between the United States’ two closest allies in the region that had fallen to postwar lows.

An official at the presidential Blue House, who was not authorized to be quoted by name, told reporters that talks had met a “last-minute obstacle.” Later, another official, said Moon’s office had become “skeptical” about his trip after hearing about the “unacceptable” remarks.

Suga described the remark as “extremely inappropriate for a diplomat and extremely regrettable,” and Japan’s Kyodo news agency said the government plans to remove Hiroshi Soma, the deputy chief of mission, as a result.

Moon will instead send the culture minister to Friday’s Opening Ceremonies in Tokyo, his office said, wishing Japan a safe and successful Olympics.

Suga said he will seek to continue dialogue with Seoul while maintaining Tokyo’s “consistent position.”

Relations between the two countries continue to be inflamed by the legacy of Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of Korea, as well as by territorial issues. The neighbors have clashed over the issue of compensation for Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms and in military brothels during Japanese colonial rule.

Last month, South Korea also objected to a map on the Tokyo Olympics website showing a set of islands controlled by South Korea, but claimed by Japan, as Japanese.

Min Joo Kim in Seoul contributed to this report.

South Korea’s Moon cancels Japan trip amid spat over insult

Al Jazeera English 19 July, 2021 - 06:18am

The announcement came on Monday after Seoul lodged a protest over a news report on Friday that a senior diplomat at Japan’s embassy in Seoul had said Moon was “masturbating” when describing his efforts to improve relations between the two countries.

“President Moon has decided not to visit Japan,” Moon’s press secretary Park Soo-hyun told a briefing.

“As the Tokyo Olympics is a peaceful festival for all people around the world, we hope that Japan will host it safely and successfully.”

The latest uproar further inflamed relations between the two nations feuding over territorial claims and their wartime history, dashing any remaining hopes that the Tokyo Games might offer a fresh start for bilateral and regional cooperation.

Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper earlier on Monday reported Moon would meet Suga in Tokyo on Friday, in time for the start of the Olympics. But both governments quickly denied a meeting had been finalised, with Moon’s office citing a “last-minute obstacle”.

Japan was also planning to replace the Seoul-based diplomat after his reported comments about Moon, the newspaper said. Japan’s top government spokesperson said the ambassador cautioned his deputy over reported remarks.

“The remarks were inappropriate as a diplomat, and we think it is very regrettable,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a regular briefing. Asked about the report about the diplomat’s removal, Kato said it was a matter for the foreign minister and did not provide further details.

A summit between the two leaders had not been decided but if Moon decided to visit, Japan would accommodate him, Kato added. South Korea’s vice foreign minister, Choi Jong-kun, summoned Japan’s Ambassador Koichi Aiboshi on Saturday to protest.

Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have been strained since South Korea’s Supreme Court in 2018 ordered some Japanese companies to compensate Korean forced labourers for their ordeals during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The rulings led to further tensions over trade when Japan imposed export controls on chemicals vital to South Korea’s semiconductor industry in 2019.

Seoul accused Tokyo of weaponising trade and threatened to terminate a military intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo that was a major symbol of their trilateral security cooperation with Washington.

South Korea eventually backed off and continued the deal after being pressured by the Trump administration, which until then seemed content to let its allies escalate their feud in public.

The countries have been trying to improve relations since the inauguration of United States’ President Joe Biden, who has called for stronger three-way cooperation in the face of North Korean nuclear threats and challenges posed by China. But progress has been slow and friction between the countries has continued as the Olympics approach.

On Saturday, South Korea’s Olympic Committee removed banners at the Olympic athletes’ village in Tokyo that referred to a 16th-century Korean naval admiral who fought off an invading Japanese fleet after the International Olympic Committee ruled they were provocative.

In agreeing to take down the banners, the South Koreans said they received a promise from the IOC that displays of the Japanese “rising sun” flag will be banned at stadiums and other Olympic venues.

The flag, portraying a red sun with 16 rays extending outward, is resented by many people in South Korea and other parts of Asia who see it as a symbol of Japan’s wartime past.

South Korea removes banners referring to 16th-century war between Korea and Japan after IOC ruled it was provocative.

President Moon immediately accepted Lee’s resignation making him the country’s shortest-serving air force chief.

North Korea has an estimated 10,000 artillery pieces dug in along its frontier, aimed at the South Korean capital.

South Korea's Moon decides against trip to Tokyo for Olympics

Nikkei Asia 19 July, 2021 - 05:44am

SEOUL -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in decided not to travel to Tokyo this week for the Olympics, the presidential Blue House announced Monday, withdrawing an initial plan to hold a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The Blue House said Moon decided against traveling as talks between Seoul and Tokyo over holding a summit collapsed.

Relations between the two U.S. allies have deteriorated in recent years over thorny historical issues such as so-called comfort women and Koreans forced to work for Japanese companies during World War II. Japan's limiting of semiconductor and display material exports to South Korea has also come between the neighbors.

"We decided on this because we could not have enough accomplishments for the summit, although the meetings were held in a friendly atmosphere and we narrowed our gaps considerably," Park Su-hyun, senior communications secretary to Moon, said in a briefing.

The announcement comes days after a Japanese diplomat mocked Moon with a lewd description. Hirohisa Soma, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, told a reporter that "Moon is masturbating himself" over the chance of a summit between the two leaders in Tokyo.

The Blue House said that Soma's remarks affected Moon's decision to cancel the trip.

"It was an unacceptable remark. We should have considered our people's sentiments and the atmosphere inside the Blue House also turned skeptical of the visit," said a high-ranking official of the Blue House, who asked not to be named.

The official also asked the Japanese government to take appropriate action to avoid any recurrence of such comments.

Suga said Monday that Soma's sexually explicit remarks were "extremely inappropriate," adding that he would seek to continue dialogue with South Korea to mend bilateral relations while maintaining Japan's "consistent position."

The Blue House official said that the two countries had aimed to mend ties in the summit, but Seoul realized that they needed more time and discussions to reach the goal.

South Korea and Japan have not held summit talks since December 2019, when Suga's predecessor Shinzo Abe and Moon met in Chengdu, China. Suga and Moon merely exchanged greetings at a Group of Seven summit in the U.K. in June.

Tokyo wants Seoul to suggest solutions to resolve a South Korean Supreme Court's ruling that Japanese companies have to pay compensation to Korean laborers forced to work for them during the war. But Seoul says that the government should respect the top court's ruling.

The comfort women issue is also unresolved. The two countries agreed to end the dispute in 2015 by setting up a foundation funded by the Japanese government to help comfort women who served in the military brothels during the war. However, the Moon government dissolved the foundation after taking power in 2017, saying the agreement failed to win supports from the victims.

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Afraid that its athletes may eat contaminated ingredients from Fukushima, South Korea created its own Olympic food program. Japan is not impressed.

Insider 19 July, 2021 - 12:00am

The country has fretted over the possibility of its delegation eating food sourced from Fukushima prefecture, which was hit by a nuclear disaster in 2011.

Japanese authorities maintained that food made with ingredients sourced from the prefecture will be safe when served at the Olympics, but the Korean Olympic Committee said last year that it would still import homegrown ingredients and use radiation detectors to check food.

The country seems set to act on its plans. It has already sent 14 cooks to Japan to whip up 420 meals a day for its Olympians and staff, and has brought along foods like Korean pickles, according to The Japan Times.

As promised, South Korea also plans to conduct radiation checks on locally-sourced ingredients, per The Times.

Masahisa Sato, a member of the Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told the Japanese paper Yomiuri Shimbun that South Korea's food program "tramples the hearts of Fukushima residents."

Japanese people commenting online criticized South Korea's decision, saying it was "disappointing" and "unpleasant."

Tomohisa Ishikawa, director of Macroeconomic Research Center in the Japan Research Institute, worried that Korea's move would damage the brand reputation of Japanese agriculture.

"Farmers in Fukushima are making great efforts for safety and should protest properly. In fact, we make a lot of high quality products," he wrote.

Shinichi Hen, editor-in-chief of the Japanese magazine Korea Report, wrote that these recent developments are "unpleasant" not just for Fukushima, but all of Japan.

Japan's Olympic woes this year with South Korea go beyond food. The South Korean team was recently instructed to remove banners that referenced past conflicts with Japan from their balconies in the Olympic village, reported Reuters on Saturday.

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