Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine returned to Japan on Monday afternoon, as part of Tokyo’s measures to protest against the installation of a “comfort women” statue in the South Korean city of Busan.
The Foreign Ministry also called back Yasuhiro Morimoto, Japanese consul general in Busan, earlier in the day.
Nagamine is expected to stay in Japan for several days and consult with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida about the next steps.
Before departing for Japan, Nagamine told reporters at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul that the erection of the girl statue, which symbolizes Korean comfort women, is “extremely regrettable.”
The temporary withdrawal of the two diplomats is among retaliatory measures announced by the government on Friday after the statue was set up by a civic group near the Japanese consulate general in the South Korean city late last year.
Busan’s authorities once removed the statue from the place but have turned to approve its installation at the same site. The government criticized the move as being inconsistent with the spirit of Japan-South Korea deals in late 2015 to fully resolve the comfort women issue.
The retaliatory measures also include the suspension of negotiations on a currency swap agreement and the postponement of high-level economic policy talks between the two countries.
Yoo Il Ho, South Korean deputy prime minister and finance minister, told ruling party lawmakers on Sunday that the diplomatic problem is feared to adversely affect economic ties with Japan, according to local media reports.Speech