- The seven-foot bronze statue, unveiled last December 8, was installed in remembrance of around 1,000 women sexually abused by Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Manila, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday downplayed the potential backlash from the Japanese government over the controversial comfort woman statue erected along Roxas Boulevard.
“I don’t think it is really a diplomatic issue. Our ties with Japan remain very strong. We have every reason to be optimistic that bilateral relations with Japan will become even stronger,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
He added that President Rodrigo Duterte will not do anything about the statue since it was not a project of Malacañang.
“This should be addressed to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. It’s not something that the president would act on himself,” Roque said.
According to reports, Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda on Tuesday told Duterte that “it’s regrettable for this kind of statue to suddenly appear” during their meeting in Manila.
The seven-foot bronze statue, unveiled last December 8, was installed in remembrance of around 1,000 women sexually abused by Japanese soldiers during World War II.
It earlier caught the attention of officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Japanese embassy.
The issue of comfort women remains a big controversy in Japan as Osaka cut city sisterhood ties with San Francisco in the United States after a comfort woman statue was put up on private land donated to the city government.
Manila has a city sisterhood ties with Yokohama.
The Japanese government earlier pledged to provide assistance to the Marawi rehabilitation and the victims of tropical storm Vinta and for the first phase of the Metro Manila Subway Project.