Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced on Jan. 6 that Japan will temporarily recall Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine and suspend talks on a bilateral currency swap agreement in response to the installation of a girl’s statue representing wartime “comfort women” in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan. Suga suggested that the Japanese government viewed the statue as running counter to the bilateral accord on the comfort women issue reached in December 2015. With the latest move, which Suga described as an “interim measure,” Tokyo will demand Seoul steadily implement the 2015 accord and immediately remove the girl’s statue. Specifically, Japan will recall Ambassador Nagamine and Consul General in Busan Yasuhiro Morimoto, suspend talks on a currency swap accord, keep staff at the Consulate-General of Japan in Busan from attending events related to the city of Busan, and postpone bilateral high-level economic talks. Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama informed these countermeasures to South Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Lim Sung-nam in the predawn hours of Jan. 6, Japan time. Both Sugiyama and Lim were visiting the United States for vice-ministerial talks between Japan, the United States and South Korea.
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Newsline: Japan recalls ambassador, suspends talks with South Korea