SEOUL – A Japanese government event in Seoul intended primarily to promote the tsunami-hit Tohoku region has been canceled at the last minute, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Saturday.
“We continued talks with South Korean authority but could not obtain permission to hold the event,” a ministry official said. “We are not in the position to explain the background (of the cancellation).”
The event, “Explore REAL JAPAN in Seoul,” was to have started for a two-day run on Saturday at a shopping mall in Wangsimni Station in Seoul.
Participants planned to promote local foods and other products, such as confections and sake, at a joint booth run by the northeastern prefectures of Aomori, Miyagi and Fukushima in Tohoku and by Kagoshima Prefecture in the country’s southwestern region. Also planned was a folk singing performance.
The event was organized in part to help alleviate concerns about the safety of Japanese food due to the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power station in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011.
On Friday, South Korean civic groups, including one monitoring radioactive contamination, requested the cancellation of the event and an apology from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.
Fukushima, Miyagi and Aomori suffered radioactive contamination due to the nuclear disaster, and South Korea imposes restrictions on the import of seafood from the prefectures, the groups said, adding that confections produced in Fukushima would be promoted at the event.
The groups also urged the South Korean government to request Japan cancel the promotion.