Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Monday that despite the ongoing controversy, Nagamine would be sent back to Seoul to prepare for the country's future cooperation with the new South Korean presidential administration and ensure joint efforts are taken to tackle threats emanated from North Korea.
The ambassador landed at Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport around 10 p.m. local time (13:00 GMT), whereas Japan’s Consul General in Busan Yasuhiro Morimoto arrived several hours earlier, according to the Yonhap news agency.
Nagamine and Morimoto were recalled in January after the statue symbolizing 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.
Erected in December 2016, the "comfort woman" statue provoked strong criticism from 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 and promised a payment of $8.3 million toward the provision of care for these women.