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Japan has recalled two top diplomats from South Korea over a controversial statue erected outside its consulate in the South Korean city of Busan recently. Tokyo will also halt talks with South Korea on a planned currency swap and delay high-level economic dialogue as part of its “initial” response to the statue, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told Journalist at a Press Briefing. The statue was erected by a civil group in December and represents “comfort women,” women who were forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II. “The fact that the girls’ statue was set up has an unfavorable influence on relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, and it is extremely regrettable,” Suga said. The temporary recall involves the Japanese Ambassador to South Korea and the Consulate General of Japan in Busan. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement in response…

By: Ann M. Simmons Acknowledging that Japan has failed to fully promote the advancement of women, the Japanese government has pledged to elevate their status in the workplace and in the country’s political arena. In the last five months, three women assumed high-profile political positions in Japan: The country’s new defense minister, the governor of Tokyo and the leader of the opposition Democratic Party are all women. In the corporate world, “male business leaders started to view women’s empowerment not as a human rights issue but an economic issue,” said Kaori Sasaki, a prominent women’s rights advocate and president and chief executive officer of ewoman Inc., a think tank and consulting firm. “Public companies have started to open the doors for women to be on boards — that’s why I’m sitting on several public companies’ boards,” Sasaki told The Times during a recent interview. “Also, companies started doing a lot…

By: Natalie Obiko Pearson Reiko Abe became a civil engineer in Japan, but she couldn’t find a job. An ancient Shinto superstition, made part of Japan’s labor law, held that if a woman entered a tunnel under construction, she would anger the jealous mountain goddess and cause worker accidents. Two decades later, Abe has become the face of Japan’s global engagement as the nation seeks to overcome its image as an economic laggard and a wasteland for career women. Television advertisements featuring her have run on CNN and the BBC. She’s been lauded by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (no relation) for showcasing Japan’s strengths abroad and symbolizing why the country needs to promote more women in a workforce where less than 5 percent of managers are female. The irony is that Abe, 51, had to leave Japan. After overseeing construction safety on Indian metro projects for seven years, she’s been…