By Hyonhee Shin and Tim Kelly
SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – South Korea will not participate in Japan’s naval fleet review in October, it said on Tuesday, as it had not been invited to a display its navy joined when the event was last held four years ago.
The absence is another sign of continuing damage to security ties between the neighbours after a dispute over compensation for Koreans conscripted by Japan as forced labourers during World War damaged trade relations.
“It’s been finalised that we’re not going,” said Choi Hyun-soo, a defence ministry spokeswoman, when asked if South Korea would participate in Japan’s naval review. “There was no invite.”
The 2015 fleet review also included ships from Australia, France, India and the United States, including the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier.
The Japanese warships were led by the 248-meter (814-ft) -long Izumo helicopter carrier, which is being refitted to carry F-35B stealth fighters.
As ties soured between the United State’s two biggest allies in East Asia, Japan imposed export curbs on materials used by South Korea’s semiconductor industry.
Seoul retaliated by withdrawing from a pact to share military intelligence that Washington had encouraged to help counter North Korea.
Last week, South Korea also approved plans to strip Japan of its fast track trade status, which lengthens application processes for approval of export of some products to Japan.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will meet Japan’s new foreign minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, in New York on Thursday, to discuss current issues between the neighbours, the South’s foreign ministry said, without elaborating.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Tim Kelly; additional reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)