Japanese ambassador to Korea Yasumasa Nagamine, who was recalled to Japan in protest of the installation of the comfort woman statue in Busan, returns to his post in Korea today, April 4.
His absence, lasting eighty-five days, marks the longest one yet for any ambassador from either country recalled for disputes.
Choi Yi-rak has more from Tokyo.
Japanese Ambassador Nagamine to Korea, who had been recalled to Japan over the comfort woman statue dispute in Busan, has been dispatched back to Seoul.
<Fumio Kishida / Foreign Minister of Japan> “It has been decided that Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine and Consul-General Yasuhiro Morimoto, who were recalled last January, will return to Korea tomorrow.”
Ambassador Nagamine will be returning eighty-five days after his temporary leave last January, longer than any ambassadorial recall over the Dokdo dispute, another sore point between the two countries.
It far exceeds the period during which former Japanese Ambassador to Korea Masatoshi Muto was recalled in August 2012, or the period during which former Korean Ambassador to Japan Kwon Cheol-hyun was recalled in July 2008, both over the Dokdo dispute.
Attention is on whether Ambassador Nagamine's return will mark a change in Korea-Japan relations, which have been greatly exacerbated by various conflicts over the comfort woman statue in Busan, school curricula in Japanese elementary and middle schools, and descriptions of sovereignty over Dokdo in social studies textbooks.
Foreign Minister Kishida revealed at a press conference that Ambassador Nagamine's return was decided to collect information on Korea's upcoming presidential election, set to take place on May 9, and to prepare for the next administration.
He also emphasized that “the comfort woman agreement is a promise between two states,” and that Japan will directly request through their ambassador that Korea implement the agreement as agreed upon.
Then, he added that “close relations are needed between Korea and Japan to respond to the nuclear missiles of North Korea.”
Choi Yi-rak reporting for Yonhap News from Tokyo.
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