The Daily Manila Shimbun


Japan’s ambassador to South Korea to return home Monday: source

January 8, 2017

SEOUL - Japan's Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine will return home temporarily Monday in protest against the erection of a new statue in Busan dedicated to women forced to work in Japan's wartime brothels, a source close to bilateral relations said Sunday. The ambassador will come back to Japan for about a week, less than the 12 days for which former ambassador Masatoshi Muto returned in 2012 as part of Tokyo's protest against then South Korean President Lee Myun Bak's visit to disputed isles in the Sea of Japan. "The issue of the installation of the statue is not as serious as the visit" by Lee, the source said. The latest statue dispute comes despite a bilateral agreement in December 2015 aimed at fully settling the issue of women procured for the Japanese military brothels before and during World War II. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said last week the government will recall Nagamine and Yasuhiro Morimoto, its consul general in Busan in response to the statue installed late last month outside the Japanese consulate in the southern port city. South Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se summoned Nagamine on Friday to directly express regret over the Japanese government's decision to recall him, though they also reaffirmed their shared intention to implement the agreement. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged South Korea in a TV program Sunday to remove the new statue and called on Seoul to implement the agreement. Abe added it is "natural" for the South Korean government to make efforts to remove another statue which stands in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, as South Korea said in the pact that it will solve the issue of the statue "in an appropriate manner." (Kyodo News)