Japanese officials have formally asked the South Korean government to remove a statue erected by activists in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, according to the Korea Times.
The statue depicts a young Korean girl, symbolic of the thousands of Korean so-called “comfort women” forced to sexually service Japanese troops during the war. The issue continues to cause tension between the two countries, with many Koreans feeling that Japan has not adequately compensated the women for their ordeal, and Tokyo responding that such matters were settled under a bilateral treaty of 1965.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also reportedly brought up the statue with South Korean President Park Geun-hye during recent talks aimed at resolving the tensions once and for all.
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Seoul says it is up to the activists to take down the statue. “Whether to remove the statue or not is not up to the Korean government,” a South Korean official told the Times on condition of anonymity. “That cannot be settled in governmental talks.”
Less than 50 onetime comfort women remain alive.