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Fukui mayor cancels trip to South Korean sister city over ‘comfort women’ issue

Kyodo

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The mayor of Fukui has canceled a trip to its South Korean sister city of Suwon over its aborted plan to erect a statue in Germany of a girl symbolizing the so-called comfort women who were procured for Japan’s wartime military brothels.

Fukui Mayor Shinichi Higashimura was to visit Suwon from Oct. 7 to 9 but abandoned the plan Saturday due to concern over aggravating relations between the two nations, Fukui officials said.

The Fukui city government told its South Korean sister city that the statue plan may “affect sentiments of citizens of the two cities and exchanges between them” and expressed regret in a letter sent Saturday, the officials said.

The city government also said it had sent a letter to Suwon on Sept. 9 asking for an explanation of the statue plan but had not received reply by a Sept. 13 deadline.

The German city of Freiburg said last week that it had decided not to proceed with the plan to erect a comfort women statue after encountering strong opposition from its Japanese sister-city, Matsuyama, in Ehime Prefecture.

Freiburg had previously accepted a proposal from Suwon, which is also its South Korean sister-city, to install in a downtown park a statue to be sent there as a gift — a replica of the comfort women statue erected in December 2011 in front of the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul.

Japan and South Korea inked a landmark deal in December to settle the comfort women issue. In that agreement, South Korea pledged to make an effort to address Japan’s request to remove the statue in front of the embassy.

In accordance with the agreement, Japan deposited ¥1 billion ($9.9 million) last month in a fund established by South Korea for the care of former comfort women.