Asahi and Nikkei wrote that more than two months have elapsed since the Abe administration recalled Ambassador to South Korea Nagamine “temporarily” in protest of the erection of a comfort woman statue in front of the Japanese Consulate General in Busan. Concern is growing about the prolonged absence of the top diplomat in Seoul potentially having adverse effects on other diplomatic issues of mutual concern, such as North Korea’s latest missile provocations. The Abe administration is in no mood to allow the return of Nagmaine to Seoul anytime soon, with an unnamed senior MOFA official saying: “The ball is in the ROK’s court. We have not decided on a timeline [for his return].” Nikkei projected that the diplomatic standoff may become further prolonged, as Seoul apparently has no effective tools to prompt the local government in Busan to remove the monument.
In a related development, Sankei wrote that a ceremony was held on Wednesday in Germany’s southeastern municipality of Wiesent to unveil a statue symbolizing comfort women, noting that it was the first memorial of its kind built in Europe.