Japanese novelist sparks outcry in South Korea with insults about ‘comfort woman’ statue

by

Staff Writer

Noted novelist Yasutaka Tsutsui has sparked the ire of South Koreans after making what was widely blasted as an obscene insult against a “comfort women” statue.

Tsutsui, best known for his 1966 science fiction novel “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” has come under fire for blogging what appeared to be words of protest against Tokyo’s decision last week to send the ambassador to South Korea, Yasumasa Nagamine, back to Seoul.

Nagamine’s return put an end to a three-month-long absence that was triggered by a South Korean citizen group’s provocative move in December to erect the statue — which symbolizes women forced to provide sex in Japanese military brothels before and during the war — in front of the Japanese Consulate in Busan.

“That girl is cute,” Tsutsui blogged in referring to the statue in a post dated April 4, the same day the ambassador flew to Seoul. “Everyone, let’s go and ejaculate in front of her and shower her with semen.”

Tsutsui also voiced dismay that Nagamine’s return, which came despite Tokyo’s failure to get a promise from Seoul to remove the statue, amounted to capitulation by Japan and its effective approval of the statue’s location.

The 82-year-old writer reportedly posted the same remark on his Twitter account. That tweet was deleted as of Monday.

Attempts by The Japan Times to contact Tsutsui failed Monday, but in an interview with Kyodo News on Friday he claimed he had “no intention of insulting South Korea” and that he was “aware what atrocities the Japanese committed against South Koreans.”

“So I think it was unavoidable that the statue was placed,” Kyodo quoted the novelist as saying. “I think people who are making a big deal out of my latest remark are those who have never read my novels. My comment was just a joke that was meant to find those people and go viral.”

Nevertheless, Tsutsui’s language stunned South Korea.

On Friday, Ginkgo Publishing Co. announced it would cease sales of the translated version of his recent work, “Monado no Ryoiki” (“Monad Area”), which hit South Korean shelves in December.

“We are very disappointed with the personal view” of Tsutsui and feel “both anger and sadness at the same time,” the company said in a statement posted to its website.

The Seoul-based Chosun Ilbo newspaper responded to Tsutsui’s gaffe in incredulity.

His comment was “shocking nonsense that sexually insulted” what the statue represents, the firm said in a Japanese version of its article Thursday.