All national dailies reported on Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga’s remarks to the press on Tuesday concerning a statue showing a man modeled after Prime Minister Abe on his knees and bowing to a girl symbolizing a wartime “comfort woman” that has been installed at a private botanical garden in Pyeongchang in South Korea. Suga said at a press briefing that if media reports that the statue depicts Abe are true, it would be “unacceptable in terms of international courtesy” and would have a “decisive impact” on the relationship between Japan and South Korea. Suga added that Japan will continue to urge South Korea to steadily implement the 2015 bilateral agreement on the comfort women under which the two nations confirmed that the issue had been “finally and irreversibly” resolved.
Mainichi speculated that the issue will likely have an adverse effect on the already cool relations between Tokyo and Seoul because criticism of the statue is growing within the GOJ and the ruling coalition. The paper carried a Kyodo report from Seoul saying that a South Korean Foreign Ministry official said at a news conference on Tuesday that foreign leaders should in general be treated with “international courtesy.” Sankei conjectured that the GOJ’s frustration over the ROK government’s failure to make efforts to resolve the issue of compensation for former requisitioned workers is behind Suga’s strong condemnation of the statue.