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Gov’t officials say ROK’s decision to return a Buddhist statue “too late”

  • 2015-07-16 15:00:00
  • , Yomiuri
  • Translation

(Yomiuri: July 16, 2015 – p. 4)

 

 With respect to the fact that South Korean prosecutors have decided to return one of two Buddhist statues stolen by a group of South Korean thieves from a shrine on the island of Tsushima in Nagasaki Prefecture, there are views in the Japanese government that “the decision was made too late.” Despite the fact that Japan has called for the return of the statues more than two years since the discovery of the thefts, South Korea has not responded. The government plans to demand the return of the other statue as well.

 

 Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga commented on the return of the statue at a press conference on July 15: “It makes sense that the stolen statue will be returned. We will call on the South Korean government to return the other statue.”

 

 The statue to be returned, a government-designated important cultural asset, was stolen in October 2012. The statue was discovered in South Korea in January 2013.

 

 In connection with South Korea’s decision to return the statue while the governments of the two countries are aiming to hold a summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Park Geun-hye at an early date, there is the view in the government that “their purpose may be to create a favorable mood for a Japan-South Korea summit meeting.” However, the prominent view in the government is that “[the return of the statue] will not become a tool to improve bilateral relations.” (Slightly abridged)

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