Tokyo, Sept. 4 (Jiji Press)–Some Japanese government officials are concerned that South Korean President Moon Jae-in may ratchet up his hard-line stance against Japan to divert public attention away from corruption allegations involving a key aide.
“Moon will continue to criticize Japan in a bid to stay in power,” a Japanese government official said. “Moon will toughen his stance if his approval ratings fall,” a different senior Japanese government official said.
Observers note a number of examples in which South Korean presidents have resorted to an anti-Japan approach to help boost public support.
There are views that Moon’s recent decision to exit an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan was intended to defuse criticism of his administration over the scandal.
Asked at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday about the possibility that Moon could strengthen his anti-Japan stance, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said, “I don’t expect the South Korean government to behave that way.”
At a separate press conference, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to discuss the scandal in South Korea, only saying it is the internal affairs of another country.
When asked about the possible impact of the scandal on relations between Japan and South Korea, Suga said, “There may be various views, but we refrain from making a prejudgment.”
A senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official said, “The situation has reached a point where the president cannot deceive the eyes of South Korean people even if he says bad things about Japan.” “Things are already at a different level,” the official said.