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Japan amb. to meet vice foreign minister amid girl statue controversy

All News 15:50 April 10, 2017

SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- Japan's top envoy to South Korea will pay a visit to a senior foreign ministry official on Monday in an apparent bid to voice his country's demand for full implementation of a 2015 deal reached to resolve a rift over Tokyo's sexual slavery of Korean women during World War II, the foreign ministry said.

Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam and Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine will have a meeting later in the day, according to the ministry. Nagamine returned to Seoul from Japan Tuesday following an almost three-month-long absence.

Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine (Yonhap file photo)

Earlier in January, the Japanese diplomat was brought home in protest over a girl statue erected by civic groups in front of the country's consulate in the southern port city of Busan. Japan demanded immediate removal of the statue symbolizing the victims euphemistically called comfort women.

Japan claims that installing such a statue runs counter to the spirit of the deal the two countries reached in late 2015 to resolve the long-running friction over the comfort women issue. Seoul says that it is not in its purview since the statue was built by civic groups.

Nagamine has tried to meet high-ranking government officials to deliver his government's official stance on the matter. He earlier applied to meet Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn in a related move but the Seoul government has not yet endorsed the request.

Under the deal on Dec. 28, 2015, Tokyo apologized and agreed to provide 1 billion yen (US$8.9 million) for the creation of a foundation aimed at helping the victims. They also agreed to resolve the rift over the issue "once and for all."

Critics called for the cancellation of the accord, saying that the Japanese government still refuses to recognize its legal responsibility. They also argue that the deal was reached without consulting the victims.


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