Tokyo has urged Seoul not to allow the erecting of a statue in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan that will reportedly symbolize Koreans conscripted to work during Japanese colonial rule, Japan’s top spokesman said Wednesday.
The installation of such a statue, if realized, would likely further complicate a bilateral relationship that remains soured over the issue of so-called “comfort women,” many of whom were Koreans, who were forced to serve in wartime Japanese military brothels.
“Through diplomatic channels Japan has strongly asked South Korea to respond appropriately,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.
The regional headquarters of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions in Busan said Tuesday it plans to install in front of the consulate in the southern port city a statue representing laborers who were conscripted to work for Japan during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
It also plans to demand an apology and compensation from the Japanese government, Yonhap said.
Also in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan, a South Korean civic group erected a statue symbolizing comfort women in late December.
The move prompted Japan to recall its envoy to South Korea, Yasumasa Nagamine, in January in protest. Nagamine has yet to return to South Korea.
Tokyo said the statue in Busan, along with a similar comfort women statue installed in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, goes against the spirit of the bilateral agreement struck in December 2015 to “finally and irreversibly” settle the comfort women issue.