THERE’S a lot to consider ahead of tomorrow’s historic summit between North and South Korea, but a controversial pudding probably wasn’t on the list. After Japan has taken issue with a mango mousse dessert set to be served on Friday, the tasty treat threatens to become an international incident.
The mousse, labelled “Spring of the People” in a publicity photo, features a map of the Korean peninsula showing islands disputed with Japan. Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo lie about halfway between the east Asian neighbours in the Sea of Japan, which Seoul refers to as the East Sea.
“It is extremely regrettable,” a Japanese foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Wednesday, adding that Japan had lodged a protest. “We have asked that the dessert not be served.”
The dessert is of particular significance as it is due to be served at dinner following Friday’s North-South Summit scheduled to take place in Panmunjom, or truce village. Kim Jong Un become the first North Korean leader to cross a military demarcation line to enter the South since the start of the Korean war in 1950.
Japan complained to South Korea about fans waving a flag with a similar design at a friendly women’s ice hockey match at the Winter Paralympics between the combined North and South Korean team and Sweden in March.
Relations between the two Koreas and Japan have long been strained by territorial disputes and lingering resentment over Japanese colonisation of the Korean peninsula in the first half of last century.
Japan in the past has also protested against the erection of statues commemorating Korean women and girls forced to work in Japanese military brothels during the second world war. Seoul says that Tokyo has yet to deliver a heartfelt apology for its wartime actions.
But Moon and the Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe, have vowed to present a united front and exert pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programmes, which it pursues in defiance of UN security council resolutions.
The North-South summit at the border truce village of Panmunjom is set to be followed by a meeting between Kim and Donald Trump in May or June.
Additional reporting by Reuters.