SEOUL: South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak hopes former colonial ruler Japan will fly the footballing flag for Asia after his own country was eliminated from the World Cup.
"I hope that Japan, on behalf of Asia, will advance to the quarter-finals with the eight strongest teams by beating Paraguay," Lee told Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan at a G8 summit in Canada, according to his office.
Lee expressed disappointment at South Korea`s 2-1 defeat by Uruguay in the round of 16 on Saturday, which left Japan as Asia`s sole representative left in the tournament when they take on Paraguay on Tuesday.
According to Japanese media reports, Kan thanked Lee for his support and said: "I will convey your message to the Japanese team."
Historically there is little love lost in South Korea for Japan, whose brutal rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945 has left enduring scars. But the two countries came together successfully to co-host the 2002 World Cup.
In South Africa, both advanced to the round of 16 for the first time on foreign soil. At home in 2002, South Korea made a surprise run to the semi-finals, while Japan have never reached the quarter-finals.
BDST: 1607hrs, June 27, 2010