The Japanese government is angry with a statue in South Korea that appears to depict Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kneeling and bowing to a seated “comfort girl”, a euphemism for Korean women forced to work in Japanese brothels during the war.
Japanese Head of Cabinet Yoshihide Suga told a press conference in Tokyo that if the claims are valid, this would be an “unforgivable” violation of the international protocol, and it could have a huge impact on Japan-South Korea relations.
The statue of the kneeling figure, created by a Korean artist, is exhibited in a botanical garden in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The icon is said to depict the people who should formally apologize for the historic mistake, not Prime Minister Abe, in particular.
The issue of comfort women, the name for the adorable 200,000 Korean women who had to work in the brothels of Japan before and during World War II, and whether survivors have been adequately compensated have long been a thorn in the side of the two neighboring countries.
Relations between Japan and South Korea have been very tense since last year. Japan curtailed exports of high-tech materials to South Korea after a South Korean court ordered Japanese companies to compensate Koreans who were forced to work for them during the war.