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    Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine, center, leaves after a meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017.

    Tokyo Sending Back Ambassador to Seoul Amid South Korean Snap Election

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    Japan will send its Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine back to Seoul on Tuesday in order to prepare for the country's future cooperation with the new South Korean presidential administration and ensure joint efforts in tackling threats emanated from North Korea, Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) Nagamine and Japan's Consul General in Busan Yasuhiro Morimoto were recalled in January after the "comfort woman" statue, which symbolizes the Korean women forced into sex slavery by Japan’s Imperial Army before and during World War II, was installed by activists in front of Japan's Consulate General in Busan.

    "As South Korea is in the political transition with the presidential election expected to take place on May 9, we have decided that it's necessary to put extra efforts into information gathering to prepare for the incoming administration," Kishida said as quoted by HNK World broadcaster.

    The foreign minister noted the importance of both Tokyo and Seoul maintaining a high level of intelligence-sharing and close dialogue with regard to North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

    Kishida added that Nagamine will strongly urge acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn to ensure the settlement of the diplomatic row over the "comfort woman."

    Morimoto is also expected to return to South Korea with the ambassador on Tuesday.

    Erected in December 2016, the "comfort woman" statue provoked strong criticism among Japanese authorities. Tokyo condemned Seoul’s inaction over the statue, citing the country’s violation of both the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which obliged a host country to protect the dignity of a consulate, and the 2015 deal aimed at resolving the issue.

    In 2015, Tokyo and Seoul reached a landmark agreement in which Japan issued an apology to the living victims of the sex slavery imposed by Japan’s Imperial Army, and promised a payment of $8.3 million toward the provision of care for these women.

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