Photo/IllutrationA statue of a girl, which symbolizes Korean "comfort women," stands in Busan, South Korea. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Popular author Yasutaka Tsutsui is facing a storm of criticism at home and abroad for comments he posted online calling on people to sexually desecrate a statue of a young girl in South Korea that symbolizes the plight of "comfort women."

Tsutsui described the statue as “cute,” and used an insulting sexual expression to urge people to show their disrespect.

In his blog April 4, Tsutsui, 82, referred to the return to Seoul of Japanese Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine after a three-month hiatus despite South Korea's seeming inability to remove the statue.

"It means that Japan tolerates the statue of a comfort woman,” Tsutsui posted.

His official Twitter carried a similar posting, but it was later deleted.

“I have written similar expressions for many years. To tell the truth, I tried to cause a heated controversy through those postings,” Tsutsui told The Asahi Shimbun in an interview.

"I was born before the war, so I know full well how cruelly Japanese people treated Koreans. I have nothing particular to say about South Koreans.”

Tsutsui has a reputation for breaking social taboos, such as descriptions about epilepsy.

His ranting has the backing of some people on the Internet, who defend him for not compromising on his style.

But others are very critical.

“There are no other ways to comment on (the postings) than to describe them as ‘sordid,’” one individual wrote.

The Japanese-language site of leading South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo criticized the postings as “shocking ravings.”

A South Korean publisher that was selling the translated version of Tsutsui’s popular novel, “Monado no Ryoiki” announced April 7 that it had suspended sales, saying it was disappointed with his postings.

The publisher had also planned to release the translated version of another novel by Tsutsui titled “Tabi no Ragosu.” It has since canceled the contract with a Japanese company that owns the copyright to the book.

“Apart from Yasutaka Tsutsui’s literary success, we are extremely disappointed with his perspectives on South Korea-Japan relations and history as an author. We feel anger and sadness about his attitude and qualification not only as an author but also as a person,” the publisher said on its website.

(Hajimu Takeda in Seoul contributed to this article.)