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Unification ministry turns down Japan envoy's request for meeting

All News 11:53 April 06, 2017

SEOUL, April 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification ministry said Thursday it has turned down a request by Japan's top envoy to South Korea to meet with Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, citing the minister's schedule.

The ministry handling inter-Korean affairs said that the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Wednesday delivered the request by Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine to meet with Hong on short notice.

"The ministry told the embassy Wednesday that the minister could not meet with the envoy for several reasons, including his schedule," a ministry official said.

Nagamine asked for the meetings with key officials in South Korea, including acting leader Hwang Kyo-ahn, Defense Minister Han Min-koo and Hong.

The request was made after he returned to Seoul on Tuesday night, nearly three months after he was recalled to his home amid a diplomatic row over a statue of a girl symbolizing the victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery of South Korean women.

Hong had previously met with foreign envoys in South Korea, but this time, Nagamine's request is seen as being rejected as the government took into account public sentiment against Japan's attitude, according to sources.

Tokyo has demanded an immediate removal by Seoul over the girl statue built in front of Japan's consulate late last year in the southern port city of Busan. It claims that the move runs counter to the spirit of a deal between Seoul and Tokyo over wartime sexual slavery.

This file photo shows South Korea's Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo. (Yonhap)


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