Comfort women statues: If that’s Abe, it’s ‘unforgivable’, Japan warns South Korea

Comfort women statues: If that’s Abe, it’s ‘unforgivable’, Japan warns South Korea

  • A new display in South Korea features a girl representing wartime victims of sexual slavery, and a kneeling man that appears to look like Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe
  • The statues have sparked an angry response from Japan, which has warned its neighbour of diplomatic consequences

The Japanese government on Tuesday reacted angrily to a pair of newly-erected statues in South Korea that appeared to depict Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kneeling and bowing to a “comfort woman”.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said if reports of the statues were true, it would be an “unforgivable” breach of international protocol.

“If the reports are accurate, then there would be a decisive impact on Japan-Korea relations,” Suga told a news conference in Tokyo.

Called “Everlasting Atonement”, the statues are on display at a botanic garden in Pyeongchang, northeast of the country. They feature a man who resembles Abe, bowing to a figure of a seated young girl.

The issue of comfort women – mostly Koreans forced to work in Japan’s brothels before and during World War II – and whether the surviving victims have been adequately compensated, have long been a thorn in the two neighbours’ ties.