TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - The Japanese government will make a four-point response, including a temporary withdrawal of the Japanese ambassador to South Korea, in the wake of a statue of a girl symbolising so-called comfort women being erected in front of the Japanese Consulate General in Busan, southern South Korea.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga revealed the measures at a press conference Friday, with the measures also including the postponement of high-level bilateral economic talks.
The government deemed that it must take a tough stance against South Korea in response to another statue of that kind being set up, despite the fact that the two countries struck a deal over the issue in December 2015 confirming that the comfort women issue would be “resolved finally and irreversibly,” according to sources.
The temporary envoy withdrawal was announced for not only Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine, but also Yasuhiro Morimoto, the consul general in Busan.
Other measures include the suspension of negotiations on a bilateral currency swap deal and the Japanese consulate general in Busan refraining from participating in Busan-related events.
“The erection of a statue of a girl, despite the Japan-South Korea deal, will mean unfavorable impacts on the bilateral relationship, and also infringes on what is stipulated in the Vienna Convention. It is extremely regrettable,” Suga said.
Early Friday morning, Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama in Washington informed South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung Nam of the implementation of the countermeasures.
In regard to the timing of when the measures will be lifted, Suga said, “We’ll deal with the matter by making a judgment on the situation in a comprehensive manner.”
A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said the withdrawal of the ambassador would not be an indefinite one, which would be a stronger measure to express the government’s position, but was conducted only for a meeting in Japan.
The statue of a girl in front of the consulate general in Busan was set up on Dec. 28 by a civil group that opposes the 2015 bilateral deal. An administrative authority in Busan, which manages the road in front of the consulate general, removed the statue on the same day on the grounds that it violated a road law. However, the group set up the statue again on Dec. 30, and the local authority changed its stance to accept the statue’s placement. It is unknown whether it will be removed.
The Japanese government has strongly called for a quick removal of the statue by claiming that the placement of the statue on the public road in front of the consulate general infringes on the Vienna Convention, which stipulates the protection of diplomatic establishments.