With Japan's Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine returning to his post in Seoul on Tuesday, the government appeared to accept that his recall failed to dent South Korea's resolve not to remove the "comfort women" statue outside Japan's consulate in the city of Busan and an older one near its embassy in Seoul.

Nagamine was ordered home nearly four months ago in protest over the new statue. The monuments commemorate women forced to provide sex for Japanese troops before and during World War II.

"I want to exert every effort in dealing with the present challenges as the ambassador to South Korea," Nagamine told reporters Tuesday after meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He declined to give details about instructions he received from the prime minister.