Ja­pan con­sid­ers re­call­ing amb. to Seoul

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Park Ji-won jw­park@ko­re­atimes.co.kr

The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing re­call­ing Ja­pan’s en­voy to Seoul in protest of a South Korean court rul­ing that a Ja­panese com­pany must com­pen­sate South Korean forced la­bor vic­tims dur­ing the 1910-45 Ja­panese oc­cu­pa­tion, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials.

“We are aware of Ja­pan’s moves to seek a tem­po­rary re­call of Ja­panese Am­bas­sador to South Korea Ya­sumasa Nagamine as one of the pos­si­ble op­tions as part of the coun­try’s strong protest against the South’s de­ci­sion on war vic­tims,” a source at the Na­tional Assem­bly told The Korea Times, Fri­day. “I heard the pos­si­bil­ity has emerged as one of the op­tions.”

No fur­ther de­tails are known. The for­eign min­istry did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment, while Cheong Wa Dae de­clined to com­ment. The Ja­panese Em­bassy in Seoul said it hasn’t been no­ti­fied of any such plan from Tokyo.

Top Ja­panese of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing For­eign Min­is­ter Taro Kono, have been step­ping up crit­i­cism against South Korea over the Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion order­ing the Ja­panese steel com­pany Nip­pon Steel and Su­mit­omo Metal to pay 100 mil­lion won to each plain­tiff.

Ja­pan’s far-right Sankei Shim­bun news­pa­per said the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment would file a suit against the South Korean gov­ern­ment with the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice un­less Seoul paid the money.

The two coun­tries have long clashed over the han­dling of Ja­pan’s bru­tal colo­nial rule of Korea and its wartime his­tory, par­tic­u­larly over fe­male sex slaves.

A sce­nario of Ya­sumasa’s pos­si­ble tem­po­rary re­turn has emerged since the court rul­ing.

In Jan­uary 2017, Ja­pan with­drew its diplo­mats, Ya­sumasa and Ya­suhiro Mo­ri­moto, the con­sul gen­eral in Bu­san, to protest a statue of a girl — com­mem­o­rat­ing wartime sex slav­ery — which South Korean ac­tivists had placed out­side the Bu­san con­sulate.

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