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New Japanese ambassador vows faithful enforcement of comfort women deal

All Headlines 14:17 August 25, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- The new Japanese ambassador to South Korea said Thursday that he will make every effort to "faithfully" implement the bilateral landmark deal aimed at healing the long-festering scars of women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops during World War II.

Speaking to reporters upon arriving at Gimpo International Airport to assume his post, Yasumasa Nagamine added that he will also work to further improve Japan-South Korea relations, saying there are many challenges that require their cooperation.

On Dec. 28, South Korea and Japan reached a deal in which Tokyo expressed an apology for its colonial-era atrocities and agreed to launch a foundation dedicated to supporting the surviving victims of sexual slavery, euphemistically called comfort women.

Japan also promised to contribute 1 billion yen (US$9.97 million) to the foundation launched in July, a plan endorsed by its Cabinet earlier on Wednesday.

Controversy remains amid speculation that Japan seeks to remove a statue installed in front of the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul that symbolizes the suffering of comfort women.

The Seoul government has said that it promised to make efforts to produce a proper resolution on the matter but it has nothing to do with the money, nor does the government have any authority to remove the statue built by a civic group.

"(I) will make efforts in a viewpoint that it is important to carry out the agreement reached last year including the matter," Nagamine said, referring to the statue issue. "I, for my part, will support the foundation in a way that its operation and business can be well executed."

He said that the Japanese government aims to deliver the promised money for the foundation by the end of this month.

The new envoy emphasized that there are many challenges in and beyond the region, on which Japan and South Korea should work together.

"It is important to seek mutual understanding of the people of the countries," he said. "(I) would like to seek mutual understanding by meeting as many Korean people as possible."

Nagamine was appointed the new ambassador to South Korea to replace Koro Bessho who left to take office as U.N. ambassador in June.


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