Japanese novelist Yasutaka Tsutsui has sparked outrage among South Koreans by recklessly insulting a "comfort women" statue erected in South Korea.
"We are very disappointed with the personal view" of Tsutsui and feel "both anger and sadness at the same time," Tsutsui's publishing company said in a statement posted on its website. The company has announced it has ceased sales of his most recent book.
Tsutsui, best known for his 1966 science fiction novel "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time," enraged many in South Korea in an online post protesting Tokyo's decision to send the ambassador to South Korea, Yasumasa Nagamine, back to Seoul.
Nagamine had been absent from his post for three months since a South Korean citizen group last December erected the statue - which symbolizes women forced to provide sex in Japanese wartime military brothels - in front of Japan's consulate in Busan, South Korea's second most-populous city after Seoul.
"That girl is cute," Tsutsui blogged in referring to the statue in a post dated April 4, the same day the ambassador flew to Seoul. "Everyone, let's go and ejaculate in front of her and shower her with semen."
Tsutsui also voiced dismay that Nagamine's return, which came despite Tokyo's failure to get a promise from Seoul to remove the statue, amounted to capitulation by Japan and its approval of the statue's location.
The 82-year-old writer reportedly posted the same remark on his Twitter account, which was deleted as of Monday.
In an interview with Tokyo-based Kyodo News, he claimed he had "no intention of insulting South Korea" and that he was "aware what atrocities the Japanese committed against South Koreans."
"So I think it was unavoidable that the statue was placed," Kyodo quoted the novelist as saying. "I think people who are making a big deal of my latest remark are those who have never read my novels. My comment was just a joke that was meant to find those people and go viral."
Nevertheless, Tsutsui's language stunned South Korea.
In a Japanese version of its article, the Seoul-based Chosun Ilbo newspaper responded to Tsutsui's comments with incredulity, calling his words "shocking nonsense that sexually insulted" what the statue represents.