Korea gov't opposes "comfort women" statue on disputed islets
South Korea's Foreign Ministry on Thursday voiced opposition to
the erection of a girl statue symbolizing "comfort women" on
a pair of islets claimed by Japan as proposed by a group of local
assembly members, saying it would be "undesirable."
The ministry said the two issues -- the two countries'
territorial dispute over the South Korean-controlled islets and the
procurement of Korean women for Japanese military brothels before and
during World War II -- are "totally different in nature" and
not be "linked."
It said the comfort women issue concerns "universal human
rights," while the isle dispute concerning "territorial sovereignty."
The proposed statue would be similar to one that civic groups
erected across from Japan's embassy in Seoul in 2011, depicting a
girl in traditional Korean clothing sitting beside an empty chair.
Japan has long demanded it be removed.
The ministry's comments came a day after the governor of North
Gyeongsang Province, which has jurisdiction over the islets known to
South Koreans as Dokdo and to Japanese as Takeshima, said it would be
"improper" to erect the statue on the contested territory as
effectively controlled and occupied by South Korea.
Japan protested to South Korea on Tuesday about the plan, which
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called "extremely deplorable
and unacceptable in light of our position on the sovereignty of
Takeshima," and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida insisting that the
islets are Japan's "inherent territory, both under international
Tensions flared following the erection late last month of a
statue of the same design erected in front of the Japanese Consulate
General in the southern port city of Busan. In response, Japan
recalled its ambassador, who is yet to return to South Korea. (Jan. 19)