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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 March 7 - 13  > Abe’s remarks on wartime sex slave issue deepen distrust by international community
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2007 March 7 - 13 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Abe’s remarks on wartime sex slave issue deepen distrust by international community

March 6, 2007
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo at the March 5 House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting stated, “We will not make an apology” over the wartime “comfort women” issue, even if the U.S. House of Representatives passes a resolution urging the Japanese government to do so.

Military clearly used coercion

The prime minister, on the one hand, said that he will stand by the 1993 government statement issued under the name of then Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei that admitted to the involvement of the Japanese military in the “comfort women” issue and which expressed “sincere apologies and remorse.”

But, at the same time, he repeatedly said that there is no evidence to prove there was coercion in forcing women into sexual servitude for the Japanese Army in other parts of Asia.

How can the same person make such contradictory remarks?

Wartime sex slaves, also known as “comfort women,” were women who were confined, deprived of human rights, and forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers under the control of the Japanese military during WWII.

Without the involvement of the military and the government, it was simply impossible to recruit “comfort women” and establish “comfort stations.” The 1993 Kono statement read, “Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women.”

While stating that he accepts the Kono statement, Abe insists that no evidence has been presented to prove coercion. He claimed that while coercion “in a broad sense” might have been involved “in a narrow sense,” such a way as “breaking into homes and taking women by force,” coercion was not used by the military.

However, it was under the military occupation that the women were taken away to the brothels against their will. This is nothing but coercion.

Denying coercion by playing with such phrases as “broad sense” and “narrow sense” only shows that Abe lacks any sense of remorse or apology.

Although a large part of the evidence related to the occupational administration was destroyed when Japan was defeated in the war, researchers have discovered numerous documents indicating that the military and government had been involved in transporting “comfort women” and establishing “comfort stations.” As a result, the Kono statement acknowledged the military’s involvement in the wrongdoings. Abe’s denial of coercion by using the hair-splitting argument defining coercion goes against the historical facts.

Abe must demonstrate remorse by his deeds

The draft resolution was submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives because the sponsors criticize not only the Japanese government’s failure to offer a formal and clear apology, but also Japan’s domestic move to “dilute or rescind the 1993 statement.” Abe’s remarks only reinforce such concern.

If he really intends to stand by the Kono statement, Prime Minister Abe must demonstrate “sincere apologies and remorse” not only by his words but also by his deeds.
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