The head of the pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan said Thursday his group favors removing the statue in Busan dedicated to women forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels.
“We share our earnest hope with our fellow men living in Japan that (the statue) should be removed,” O Gong Tae, the chief of the group, also known as Mindan, said in a New Year’s address in Tokyo.
The installation of the statue in front of the Japanese Consulate in the southern port city on Dec. 30 has triggered a diplomatic feud that prompted Japan to temporarily withdraw its ambassador to South Korea and halt high-level bilateral economic talks.
Tokyo sees the statue’s presence as violating the groundbreaking 2015 bilateral agreement designed to resolve the issue of what Japan euphemistically calls the “comfort women” once and for all. The majority of the surviving women back the agreement.
O said the 2015 accord was the outcome of an “agonizing” but “wise” decision by both the South Korean and Japanese governments to move bilateral ties forward.
“If (the accord) is not implemented in a sincere manner, the (comfort women) issue will never be resolved,” he said.
South Korea said at the time it will “strive to resolve” the issue of a similar statue installed in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul “in an appropriate manner.”