South Africa's ambassador to Japan has complained to a conservative Japanese newspaper about a recent column that advocated separate residences for foreign workers modeled on apartheid.

The Sankei newspaper said on its website over the weekend that it had received a letter of protest from Ambassador Mohau Pheko. She called apartheid a crime against humanity that should not be justified in the 21st century.

The Feb. 11 column by well-known conservative writer Ayako Sono said that Japan needs foreign workers to offset its shrinking population, but that different races should live separately. She has served on an advisory panel for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on education.

A Sankei statement says that the column is Sono's opinion, and that Sankei believes that apartheid and racial discrimination should not be permitted.