Seoul hotel rejects Japan Embassy party while museum cancels ‘One Piece’ exhibit


The Lotte Hotel, one of the largest luxury hotels in Seoul, has decided against hosting a regularly held reception organized by the Japanese Embassy to commemorate the establishment of the Self-Defense Forces out of fear of demonstrations, a hotel source said.

Meanwhile, the War Memorial of Korea has canceled an exhibition of the popular Japanese manga “One Piece,” which had been scheduled to start Saturday, citing a drawing similar to the Rising Sun flag — considered a symbol of Japan’s aggression in South Korea — appearing in the original series.

The SDF event had been scheduled to be held Friday evening. After being notified of the decision by the Lotte Hotel, the embassy decided to hold the event at the ambassador’s residence.

“It’s regrettable that the Lotte, which has been a familiar venue for us, has decided to take such action,” a Japanese official said.

With history differences that have long been simmering and the Abe administration’s recent move to make Japan’s defense policy more muscular, criticism against Japan has been growing among the South Korean government and media.

The Dong-a Ilbo newspaper carried a report blasting the Lotte Hotel’s reception plan in its Thursday edition. The hotel said it was been bombarded with calls of protests and threats. It had hosted the event in recent years.

The SDF commemorates its founding on July 1. This year marked its 60th anniversary. Japanese diplomatic missions around the world hold similar events around this date.

With Japan-South Korean relations at a low point, the embassy in Seoul had scaled down the event for this year, but it still invited several hundred people, including diplomats from South Korea and other countries stationed in the country.

The embassy frequently uses the Lotte Hotel, located in Myeongdong, a central shopping district popular with tourists. The hotel is also a familiar name with Japanese travelers.

The War Memorial, run by the South Korean government, decided to cancel a contract on leasing out an exhibition room with the event company planning to stage the “One Piece” show of character figures from the adventure series. The show itself did not have a plan for displaying anything resembling the flag, according to organizers.

The museum said that “it could invite unnecessary disturbances” given the many complaints it received against the planned exhibit.

South Korean media reports said the event company objected to the cancellation.

Versions of the Rising Sun flag were used by the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. A newer version is now used by the Ground Self-Defense Force. South Koreans are showing increasing aversion to the flag, with lawmakers having presented legislation in the national legislature to penalize its use in public places.

The memorial was set up to honor those who died in the Korean War and to educate people about the importance of defending the country. On its website, the memorial said confusion associated with the event is inappropriate for the hall of national defense.

  • itoshima2012

    This as many other actions by the Korean and the Chinese government will surely help to keep things calm in this part of the world. Well done you morons!

    • wrle

      To counter all the actions of the Japanese government. Well done everyone.

      • R.R.

        Japan hasn’t been the provocative force here.

        When nations routinely bring up the past as a means to open wounds repeatedly, it does nothing to help heal the wounds but instead could very well cause it to fester.

        It is important not to over-play your hand in such scenarios, Japanese citizens are growing weary of the shame game South Korea and China routinely and repeatedly uses, despite all the monetary settlements, treaties, ethical conduct and apologies by Japan; it does the region no good when the otherwise pacifist and apologetic Japanese feels that enough is enough and they should not have to perpetually bear the burden of shame from a war over 70 years ago.

      • Demosthenes

        Not glorifying WWII soldiers? Um, you do know about Yasakuni shrine, right? As for the ADIZ, well if Japan had used international legal channels instead of just buying the disputed islands from their “rightful” owner, this whole ADIZ nonsense might not have happened in the first place. China isn’t the only one escalating the issue. Japan could be responding to things more intelligently than just – “Oh yeah China? I see your bluff and raise you another.”

      • R.R.

        Yasukuni shrine is an issue of religion, it is not meant to honor and extol WW2 soldiers and war criminals but merely to remember the countless Japanese who had paid for the foolish war with their lives, in fact, if anything, it serves as a reminder of why Japan should not be involved in another war.

        Yasukuni shrine is quite often misrepresented and misunderstood by the masses.

        The islands are privately held and about to be purchased by a nationalist with plans to develop on said land, the government stepped in to purchase the islands before he could and thus ensuring that the islands remains undeveloped, it isn’t a bid to raise tensions, if anything, a bid to de-escalate potential tension.

        The world sees China’s bluff and it isn’t doing their reputation and image much good.

      • Demosthenes

        The problem is, the way the ‘masses’ view Yasukuni is really the only thing that is important here. Now both China and South Korea reproach Japan when government officials go there and everyone in Japan is aware of this. So the question is – despite the memorial part which could be done another way – if it’s so politically damaging and does nothing but incite hatred, why do Japanese politicians visit the place unless they either: a) deliberately want to stir up trouble or, b) care nothing for the opinions of their neighbors. Either way, I really don’t see a way Japan can justify the shrine…. especially considering Shinto religion is nothing more than an empty, mindless ceremony now because there are definitely no gods there.
        As for the island purchase – well, now that he has the islands, how about Abe does the right thing, admit the islands are in dispute, and take the issue to the United Nations for a final decision? I don’t see how what he is doing now is de-escalating tensions at all. Also, for all we know the whole Shintaro purchase plan could have just been a ruse started by Abe himself – eg. make it look like they have to buy it or otherwise Shintaro will. It’s all smoke and mirrors my friend. Japan is doing nothing to genuinely de-escalate tensions in the region at all.

      • “Abe” did not buy the islands. Nor did the LDP.

        The DPJ did it.

        Now, please stop insulting Demosthenes by using his name as you mouth idiocy.

      • R.R.

        I do not clearly understand why people from the Allied countries are allowed to visit memorials that remembers the war dead but those from the Axis are refrained from doing so.

        Yasukuni is a memorial, it does not honour or extol war crimes or war itself, what is so wrong with remembering your countrymen who had paid for the war with their lives? is it simply because they lost the war?

        Inciting hatred is debatable, if countries stop misrepresenting Yasukuni then there wouldn’t be said “hatred”

        China and South Korea could also

        a) Understand the rationale of the visits and not hype the visits as honouring war criminals when it certainly isn’t.

        b) Care nothing about Japan’s opinions, the Japanese diplomat’s rationale for the visits despite them repeatedly clarifying that it is only a memorial to remember the suffering brought by the war and instead push their own rhetoric as a means to further their nationalistic sentiments. Are the Japanese opinion, way of life and rights any less important than those of Chinese and South Koreans?

        should Japan continue to be submissive to China and South Korea simply because of purported war crimes during a war 77 years ago?

        Shinto religion goes further than your understanding leads you to and I’m not about to start educating others on what Shinto religion is and isn’t.

        Japan certainly is willing to take the dispute to the UN, China is the one who repeatedly refuses any international arbitration, citing that they have an undisputed right to the island and that there are no dispute because those territory are inherently Chinese.

        How is that for de-escalation of tensions?

        How is the purchase smoke and mirrors? simply because it doesn’t fit into what you prefer to believe? or do you actually have concrete evidence that the purchase is a well-orchestrated attempt to create tension with China?

      • Demosthenes

        Okay, for starters don’t try to play being ‘educated’ about Shinto. There’s nothing there to be educated about, because any fool can tell that today it’s just pomp and ceremony with about as much mystical relevance as tea ceremony. Every Shinto and Buddhist outfit in Japan is just a tax-payer funded boondoggle for the people who run them.
        Next, I think the countries and China and Korea well and truly have reason to be angry over visits to Yasukuni shrine – their countries were invaded by Japan – the war crimes they committed are not purported, they are WITHOUT DISPUTE – and seeing Japanese members of parliament today visit the shrines no doubt has them questioning the sanity of the government of today.
        And, yes, allied countries can visit their WW2 shrines because – guess what – THEY DIDN’T INITIATE ANYHING DURING WW2! It was Germany and Japan that cast the stones.
        Finally – FYI, China DID launch a protest with the U.N. over the Diaoyu islands. It is the Japanese who said that the matter was not up for debate.

      • 鉄皇

        Have you EVER read the Kojiki, Nihon Shoki or such? I am sure you have not. It is utter folly to dismiss 神道 (Shinto) as not educational without reading these historical Japanese books and studying Japanese history. Also, do you have ANYTHING to back up your claim, “Every Shinto and Buddhist outfit in Japan is just a tax-payer funded boondoggle for the people who run them”? China and South Korea might have a reason to be angry over Japanese politicians’ visits to Yasukuni Shrine, but they had NEVER complained about it until the Asahi Shinbun, the largest Japanese leftist newspaper, criticized it a few decades ago. They simply followed the criticism, and now it is a useful diplomatic tool for them against Japan. Regarding the Senkaku Islands, why would Japan have to “admit” the islands are in dispute, when China had NEVER objected to the San Francisco Peace Treaty? You do know that China had kept silent on the islands until natural resources such as oil fields were found around them, do you not? China has no right to own the islands, and thus, there is no dispute over them.

      • Demosthenes

        Without getting too far off topic, I can tell you that I have EXTENSIVELY studied Asian religions – especially Buddhism. I have read the Kojiki and spent a lot of time traversing scriptures and creeds of various Japanese Buddhist sects. I can tell you this – nowadays Buddhism and Shinto are mostly just ceremonial nonsense. People in Japan do them mostly because of their fear not looking Japanese if they don’t. Almost all ‘acknowleged’ Japanese religious organizations are subsidized extensively by government money, because they are considered part of the Japanese indoctrination experience. I mean, seriously, don’t you wonder why certain temples in Japan look so well-kept, despite their only claim to fame being that some self-proclaimed Buddhist know-it-all like Kukai came past the town one day and farted while he was there?
        Secondly, I think that there is genuine anger behind the Yasukuni visits in China and South Korea. But even if it is just a political tool, I don’t think you understand the game of politics – it doesn’t matter if China and South Korea are using the Yasukuni issue as a diplomatic tool, the point is that it is working very well. Japan should just adapt to this pressure and do something else, because being arrogant about it is only causing them trouble.
        Lastly, the Treaty of Peace (neither the ROC nor the PRC were invited to the San Francisco Peace Treaty) gave the islands to China. It doesn’t matter if they didn’t do anything with them for a while afterwards – that’s the privilege that comes with ownership.

      • 鉄皇

        You are one of the most delusional people I have ever seen. Are you seriously telling me that Japanese people who visit Ise Grand Shrine, Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine, Hakone Shrine, Miwa Shrine, Senso-ji, or other shrines or temples fear looking not Japanese? What kind of joke is that? Granted some religious organizations, such as Soka Gakkai, might be receiving money from Japanese politicians (though I see it the other way around), but it is utter folly to say Shintoism is just ceremonial nonsense. It is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, and a lot of Japanese people still believe in gods and visit shrines and temples. Stop talking nonsense. Regarding the pressure of the criticism of Yasukuni visits, the Japanese government does not think it is working very well as it has been going on for a few decades and other countries in East Asia have never followed these two countries and strongly objected to the visits. That being said, there may be something more the Japanese government can do. In regard to the peace treaty, it gave the Senkaku Islands to China? What? Are you serious? Where in the treaty does it say that? I have discussed this territorial issue with a lot of Chinese people but never seen anyone saying that. You do know that Japanese fishermen lived on the islands before WWII, but China had never objected to it, do you not? They did not care about the islands, but as soon as natural resources were found around them, they suddenly started claiming sovereignty over them. This fact says it all.

      • Demosthenes

        In regards to the first point – I think going to those temples is just part of the rite of passage for Japanese people. They do it because that’s what Japanese people do – not because they believe that there are any gods there (though some might actually believe so, though I’d be willing to be there would be less genuine believers than there are Otaku.) It’s an aesthetic practice – just like bowing at the start of class or learning to shoot arrows in Kyudo. And when I say “government funded” I’m not talking about Japanese politicians paying them for some ulterior purpose – I’m talking about Japanese tax payer money funding their upkeep for being part of Japanese history. (They’re also a great tourist buck, so I guess some of it comes back.) Of course, you do realize anyway that before the Meiji era Shinto was basically disappearing in Japan. It survived through some syncretism with Buddhism, but was separated and established as Japan’s national religion as a pragmatic way to reinforce in the Emperor’s divinity. I don’t know if I would consider that as making it ‘deeply rooted’ in Japanese culture. Looks to me more like social planning kept it here.
        As for the island issue, Japanese war records demonstrate that they belonged to Taiwan when Japan took Taiwan over. At the end of WWII Japan was ordered to return those islands to China. As for Japanese fishermen supposedly using them before WWII – well, gee, even if that were the case then that totally establishes Japan’s ownership.

      • 鉄皇

        Japanese shrines and temples, especially the ones I have mentioned above, have a lot of local people who believe in gods and repeatedly visit them. You obviously don’t know what the Japanese are like. I won’t deny that some don’t believe in gods or have much faith in them, but still, it is utterly wrong to say Shintoism is just ceremonial nonsense. This is an insult to tens of millions of Japanese people who believe in gods. Also, what do you mean by “otaku”? I don’t quite understand how otaku are relevant to shrines and temples. Regarding religious organizations being subsidized by government money, what religious organizations are you talking about, and do you have any evidence to prove it? In regard to Shintoism disappearing during the Edo era, I wouldn’t think it was “disappearing”. It simply absorbed Buddhism elements into it. Also, it is true that the Meiji government established State Shinto in order to increase the national strength, but you could say Shintoism is deeply rooted in Japanese culture, considering a lot of Japanese people are still animists and that traditional festivals and rituals that started long before the Meiji era are still going on. Even magazines for young girls cover shrines and temples, saying something like, “If you’re having a hard time getting a boyfriend, this shrine is for you.” As for Japanese war records indicating the islands belong to Taiwan, what Japanese war records are you talking about? Well, I know there are a lot of Chinese claims about the islands, but none of them are convincing, and most have already been disproven. And yes, Japan was ordered to renounce all the islands they had grabbed from other countries by force, and this is another proof that the Senkaku Islands belong to Japan, because the Allies would have protested against Japan if they had considered the islands as part of China or Taiwan, but they did not, and neither did these two countries. The fact that neither China nor Taiwan had ever claimed sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands until natural resources were discovered around them in 1971, explains everything.

      • Demosthenes

        I’m sure there are those in the sad, lunatic fringe in Japan who believe Shinto gods are real (when I lived in Japan I did meet one such a person in the many years I was there.) But, for many Japanese the idea of Shinto is a form of romanticism – nothing more. If you sneeze and I say “bless you”, or I use phrases like “oh my god” that doesn’t mean that I’m Christian, it’s just that these words have become cultural norms. That’s what Shinto is today. If there were any ‘real’ religion in Japan it would be Jodo-Shinshu, because that one offers an afterlife in a Buddhist paradise for simply reciting a nembutsu ten times. And, let’s face it, idealizing that one’s deceased loved ones are off in a paradise is a compelling sales point. As for the Diaoyu / Senkaku islands issue – well, yes, both sides have their purported evidence. AND I maintain that the only way the issue is going to be sorted out is if Japan and China get an international ruling on the issue once and for all.

      • 鉄皇

        Sad, lunatic fringe? So the locals who habitually visit shrines and temples are not normal people? How prejudiced can you be? I don’t know if you’re an atheist or not, but to me, you seem to hate to admit that there are numerous Shintoists among normal people. Or do you just like looking down upon and insulting them? And what in the world is “real” religion? Religion comes in different forms. Even if one doesn’t know of the gods who appear in the Kojiki or the Nihon Shoki, he could be seen as a Shintoist if he respects nature as well as Japanese culture and values the idea that gods inhabit shrines, temples, trees, rocks, rivers, and other natural objects. And oh, not only have you extensively studied Asian religions, but you also lived in Japan for many years? That’s great. I’m sure you have no problem with the Japanese language then. Let me explain a little bit more in Japanese. 神道とはキリスト教や他の宗教の様に経典がなく、日本文化や生活様式に溶け込んだ古来より続く観念や仕来りだ。あなたは神社やお寺に参拝する日本人は形の上だけで行っていると指摘するが、実際は神々を信仰している者は多く、あまりにも文化的、生活的な一部として溶け込んでいるため「宗教」をしているという感覚がなく、また自覚もない。前のコメントでも述べたが、若者達の間でも「スピリチュアルスポット」として人気を博している神社やお寺が多くあり、神々を信仰している者達が一様に変わった集団だと述べるあなたは無知、もしくは偏見に支配されているとしか言い様がない。Regarding the territorial issue, I understand your suggestion. However, the Japanese government probably doesn’t feel the need to request China to bring the issue to the ICJ, as it is clear now due to its aggression against Vietnam that China is an imperialistic nation that doesn’t observe international rules, and a great threat to East Asia. China’s credibility is now lower than ever.

      • Demosthenes

        OK. Look, judging by your responses I suspect you are personally invested in Shinto in some way – that’s great for you. What I am saying is that I think Shinto today is more of a shared cultural experience than a religion. I come to my conclusions based upon the multitude of Japanese people I’ve asked over my time in Japan, and who’ve told me they find shrines to be aesthetically pleasing and tranquil but not a religious experience. That being said, I’ve also met Japanese people who believe in “power points” and other new age phenomena in places like Korea, etc. so I am willing to believe that that there are some people who find Shinto shrines to be legitimate religious places.
        Hey, and your Japanese is pretty darn good too I might add. You know, if you’re interested in Shinto you might be able to get yourself a gig like the guy in Tokyo who the JT reported on a few weeks ago. Apparently, he’s the first foreign Shinto priest in Japan. ;)

      • 鉄皇

        You might have a point there. When Japanese people hear the word “宗教 (religion)”, they automatically think of dubious organizations, such as Soka Gakkai and Kofuku no Kagaku, which care about nothing but collecting money and increasing their influence in Japanese politics. The notorious religious organization “Aum Shirinkyo”, which released sarin gas on some trains, killing several people, is probably also the reason why some Japanese people frown upon the word. The funny thing is that when they are asked, “Do you believe in gods?”, some say yes, but when they are asked, “Are you religious?”, nearly no one does. I believe most Japanese people think that to be religious is to belong to a religious organization. In that sense, you could say that they have some kind of prejudice against religion. Many visit shrines and temples when they are in trouble or danger, when they want a boyfriend/girlfriend or a child, when they want to succeed in their business, or when they want to express their gratitude to gods, but they don’t consider that to be religious. Well, either way, it would be pointless in discussing the definition of religion as it differs from person to person, so I won’t talk about it anymore. Regarding my Japanese skills, thank you for the compliment. However, it is only natural that I speak Japanese fluently, because I’m Japanese. ;)

      • Demosthenes

        Yes. Actually I think what you said sums it up. Perhaps modern Japanese people are a lot more like us in the West nowadays, in that people here often like to refer to themselves as being “spiritual” but not members of an organized religion per se. I can understand Japanese people wanting to steer clear of the religious moniker after the Aum Shinrikyo fiasco. Also, I recall my elderly Japanese teacher and his friends often talking about religion in a negative way – ie. that it is just a tool for group manipulation. Maybe Japanese people fear the political undertones or being manipulated, because they suspect many religious activities can suspend one’s critical thinking skills. Anyhow, thank you very much for your discussion. You’ve made me think about my times in Japan from a different angle.

      • R.R.

        Imperial Ming annals list the islands as not China’s territory so its really not a historical and inherent part of China.

      • R.R.

        If you need to type EXTENSIVELY in caps, it goes to show how much of a lie it is, to the extent that you need caps to overcompensate for your actual lack of knowledge in said fields of study.

        take your Pro-PRC political agenda BS somewhere else.

      • R.R.

        For starters, if you’re trying to downplay your own immense ignorance of a subject, do try not to contradict yourself right after, its just not very…. smart.

        We now known of your clear and obvious Pro-PRC political agenda (from a different comment on this article) and there is little else to discuss further, take your Pro-PRC agenda somewhere else.

  • Demosthenes

    I think cancelling the One Piece exhibit was a bit silly, but as for the Lotte Hotel event I think it was probably the smartest thing to do. I mean, hosting a party for the JSDF in Korea!?!? Come on. What the heck was the Japanese embassy thinking? Are they trying to deliberately provoke the Korean people? Whoever suggested the idea should be fired.

    • R.R.

      It wasn’t the first time the event was held in Korea to signify the close defense ties of the 2 nations.

      JSDF is as what its name implies, Self Defence Force and their stance has not changed at all, they’re still a pacifist military that renounces the use of force as a solution to disputes, there isn’t anything inherently “wrong” with JSDF having an event in South Korea.

      It still baffles me as to why South Korea would think of the collective self defence revision as a threat to its country when contrary to that, it serves to bolster and strengthen South Korea’s collective defensive ability in the event of a conflict with the North.

      • Demosthenes

        If South Korea is concerned about a conflict with the North, they’re probably better off aligning themselves with China and distancing themselves from Japan.
        I dare say China has more influence over N.K. than Japan ever will. Why risk a war with the North through being friends with Japan when China will guarantee that there will never be a war to begin with?

      • Jeffrey

        Why would you think that as the reason there even is a N. Korea was Chinese intervention in the war? Nominally, China remains N. Korea’s only ally in the region.

      • R.R.

        China is by far the most strategically unreliable ally to ever have.

        and the fact of that is best illustrated in your comment. the very reason North Korea thrives or even persists to be a “regional threat” is because of China’s assistance and support, so you’re suggesting that South Korea gets into bed with China who also happens to be in bed with North Korea? sounds rather crazy if you’d ask me.

      • Demosthenes

        It’s the best decision one can make between a rock and a hard place. China can say to South Korea “Look, let’s face it Japan won’t buy your cars, and your TV and other goods face stiff unfair tariffs in Japan. As for North Korea, well if you side with Japan you’re going to have to risk trusting them and the U.S. to defend you from North Korea if an attack occurs. How about this – you side with us. We’ll happily take all your products because we have one of the biggest consumer markets in the world. And we can also guarantee that North Korea will never attack you. Hey, we might even be able to guarantee something the U.S. and Japan can’t – reunification between the North and South. What do you say?”
        If I were Seoul, I’d find that offer very tempting indeed.

      • R.R.

        There is a reason why South Korea maintains a large armed forces with mandatory conscription, they do not solely rely on other nations to protect their interests and as history have shown, U.S. has been a reliable ally that has went to war for them, China on the other-hand went to war against them and ultimately is the reason there is even a North Korea to begin with.

        Your scenario is nothing more than a shakedown, using North Korea as the enforcer, you seriously think rational and sane people would think of that and go “Hey that is a great idea, we might as well be vassal state of the PRC”

        really? you think that as a tempting proposition?

      • Demosthenes

        Well, Korea originally WAS a vassal state of China – before Japan invaded it and took it away, of course.

      • R.R.

        and you’re suggesting for South Korea to abandon its independence that they have fought a war for just to become a vassal state of China like how China forced them to in ancient times?

        Guess we can now see where your political agenda lies, there is nothing more to discuss with one harboring Pro-PRC agenda.

      • Demosthenes

        Now now kitty cat. No need to get all snarky towards China, just because they’ve overtaken your country both economically and politically.

    • phu

      Considering it’s been going on for years, at the same time and in the same place, I don’t think I’d characterize it as intentional provocation. I think it’s an odd thing to commemorate outside of Japan, but apparently it’s been regularly attended by South Korean and other diplomats, so at this point my guess is it’s more of an annual excuse to get together and mingle/network than anything else. Pretty much the way Memorial Day in the US pretty much just means a day off to grill to most people, regardless of its actual purpose.

      The hotel probably made a good business decision by canceling it, though, in terms of avoiding incidents and potential backlash against their brand from the (over)reactions of the public. I do agree that the One Piece cancellation is a bit of an eye-roller.

  • Jeffrey

    “Meanwhile, the War Memorial of Korea has canceled an exhibition of the popular Japanese manga “One Piece,” which had been scheduled to start Saturday, citing a drawing similar to the Rising Sun flag . . . ”

    Why would this be considered an appropriate exhibition at a war memorial in the first place?

    • WillA

      It’s Asia. They have different rules of logic there.

  • zer0_0zor0

    Sure, sex and violence in a Japanese manga exhibition presented at a ar related event???

  • Jeffrey

    You didn’t answer the question.