Tokyo spearheads protests over monuments: source
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The Japanese government has ordered its diplomats in the U.S. to step up efforts to block the erection of monuments here for Korean women forced to serve as sex slaves for Japan's imperialist troops during World War II, a source said Tuesday.
Japan's foreign ministry has "directed its Consul General in New York to actively protest monuments to comfort women being erected by Korean-American groups here," said the Nelson Report, a private information service provider based in Washington.
Its claim has not been formally confirmed. Responding to Yonhap News Agency's inquiry on the matter, the Japanese Embassy in Washington said it would take some time to provide a formal answer.
The Nelson Report, which has a track record of providing some correct information on sensitive diplomatic issues, though not always, said Tokyo is taking issue with not only such monuments but also the numbers of victims cited.
Korea's activist groups say thousands of Korean women were kidnapped and raped by Japanese soldiers in the early 1900s, when Korea was under Japan's brutal colonization.
Most recently, the Korean-American community in New Jersey was successful in placing a small monument in a local park.
Japanese people here have been protesting such a move.
The U.S. government refuses to be drawn into the issue.
"The placement of memorials in local U.S. parks is not within the purview of the State Department," a State Department official said, requesting anonymity.
As the U.S. pushes for stronger trilateral cooperation with Korea and Japan to buttress its "pivot" towards Asia, bilateral relations between Seoul and Tokyo remain stalled due to longstanding disputes over their shared history and conflicting territorial claims.
Last month, amid a public uproar, South Korea abruptly shelved a plan to sign an accord with Japan on sharing military information.
Koreans believe Japan should first offer a sincere apology for its actions.
Japanese government officials may be irritated by a separate news report that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ordered the use of the terminology "sex slaves," instead of just "comfort women," to describe the Korean victims.
Clinton's department has neither confirmed nor denied the report.