South Korea said Thursday it was inappropriate for Japan to take issue with inviting a former "comfort woman" to a state banquet hosted for U.S. President Donald Trump and using in a banquet dish shrimps caught in waters around islets at the center of a territorial dispute between the two countries.
The attendance of the 88-year-old South Korean woman, Lee Yong Soo, at Tuesday's banquet on and the "Dokdo shrimp" menu had prompted Japan to lodge what a Japanese official described as a "protest" to South Korea through diplomatic channels.
"It's inappropriate (for Japan) to take issue with the menu and invitees for a state banquet as such matters are to be determined after comprehensively considering all sorts of factors," Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu Duk told reporters.
Noh said South Korea has conveyed its position to Japan through diplomatic channels.
Japanese officials see the invitation of Lee, one of the most vocal critics of the issue, to the event runs counter to the spirit of a 2015 bilateral agreement aimed at "finally and irreversibly" settling the so-called comfort women issue.
Lee has spoken widely of her suffering from being forced into sex slavery by the Japanese during World War II. She was one of the about 70 guests the South Korean government had invited to the banquet.
The pair of rocky islets controlled by South Korea, where they are known as Dokdo, are also claimed by Japan, which calls them Takeshima.