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No. 2 diplomats of S. Korea, Japan spar over historical issues

All Headlines 13:36 January 06, 2017

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- The No. 2 diplomats of South Korea and Japan sparred over history issues Thursday as they met in Washington on the sidelines of a trilateral cooperation session with the United States.

The meeting between South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam and his Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama came after historical tensions flared anew over the Japanese defense minister's visit to a Tokyo war shrine and the setting up in South Korea of a statue symbolizing Japan's wartime sexual slavery.

During the meeting, Lim conveyed a strong complaint over Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada's visit last week to the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Class-A war criminals, according to a South Korean official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Inada was the first Japanese defense chief to pay homage to the shrine that has been denounced as a symbol of Japan's militaristic past. South Korea and China have slammed visits to the shrine as a sign that Japan has not repented for its imperialist past.

Sugiyama, on the other hand, raised a complaint over the erection of a girl's statue by civic activists in front of the Japanese Consulate in South Korea's southeastern port city of Busan last week, according to Japanese news reports.

The statue symbolizes "comfort women," who were victims of Japan's enslavement during World War II. Japan has strongly demanded its removal, calling it a violation of an agreement between the two countries reached in late 2015 to resolve the comfort women issue.

On Friday, Japan recalled its ambassador in Seoul and the consul general in Busan in protest, and suspended talks to resume a currency swap between the two countries.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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