Japan Irate at Statue of Abe Genuflecting to Sex Slave

  • By Lee Ha-won, Lee Hae-in

    July 29, 2020 11:31

    Japan has formally protested against a sculpture in a privately owned botanical garden in Korea that represents Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prostrating himself in front of a World War II sex slave.

    The botanical garden has now canceled the official unveiling of the sculpture scheduled for next month.

    After Japanese news media picked up the story on Sunday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, "If the reports are accurate, then there would be a decisive impact on Japan-Korea relations."

    The work, entitled "Eternal Atonement," adorns the Korea Botanic Garden in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province.

    A sculpture of a man representing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe genuflecting before a wartime sex slavery victim sits in a private botanical garden in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province on Tuesday. /Yonhap

    Wang Gwang-hyun, the sculptor, said, "The work urges [Abe] to reflect on his reluctance to apologize for the forced colonization of Korea and the comfort women issue," the euphemism for the sexual enslavement of Korean and other Asian women for the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II.

    The conservative Sankei Shimbun on Tuesday said the statue is drawing criticism even within Korea for "diplomatic discourtesy" and for being "childish."

    The gold-colored installation is less than persuasively executed, and there has been some head-scratching here why it would spark threats of a "decisive impact" from the top of the Japanese government given that the park is in private hands.

    The Foreign Ministry here only said that Japan "appears to be worried about international discourtesy toward the leader of another country."

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