Japanese politician cites racism concerns due to Berlin comfort woman statue

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Oct. 29 (UPI) — A Japanese politician is requesting the removal of a new comfort woman statue in a borough in Berlin, Germany, on the grounds the memorial could incite anti-Japanese racism.

Kenichi Sumioyshi, the ward mayor of Shinjuku, a district of the capital Tokyo, sent a letter to a Berlin district mayor on Oct. 21, requesting the removal of the statue, Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun reported Thursday.

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In his letter, Sumiyoshi said Japanese expatriates living in Germany and residents of his ward in Tokyo have been submitting letters anonymously, expressing concerns about racism or discrimination because of the statue, according to the report.

“I wish for a beneficial conclusion for the friendship between our two cities,” the letter read.

The report of the Japanese politician’s letter comes a month after Tokyo pledged to get rid of the memorial to victims of Japanese wartime brothels. The women were often forcibly taken from their homes on the Korean Peninsula during Japan’s period of colonial rule that ended in 1945.

Ties between South Korea and Japan have yet to show signs of improvement. On Thursday, South Korean activists on Jeju Island held a rally outside the Japanese consulate to voice their opposition to Japan’s decision to eventually dump radioactive water from Fukushima into the sea, according to South Korean news service Newsis. Jeju is located about 220 miles from Japan.

Japan postponed the decision to release the water following opposition from domestic fishermen, according to Japanese press reports last week.

On Thursday, Shigeki Takizaki, the Japanese diplomat for Asia and Oceanian affairs, met with his South Korean counterpart Kim Jung-han, but the meeting did not end with a major agreement, according to South Korean paper Hankyoreh.

Seoul and Tokyo continue to disagree on compensation for Korean forced laborers during wartime. The seizure of Japanese assets by South Korean plaintiffs could lead to a “grave situation,” Tokyo has said.