Japan War Sex Slaves Apology Upheld

JapanIn a political move, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he would not retract a 1993 apology towards the alleged 200,000 women – mostly Koreans – who were forced to work as sex slaves for military in Japan during World War II. This was the first time since Abe took office in December 2012 that he said his administration would uphold the apology.

The Kono Statement of 1993 gave frank admission that the military played a key role in requiring “comfort women” to serve as brothel workers for soldiers. In his declaration on Friday, Mr. Abe expressed regret and emotion in reaffirming the earlier apology. As part of his announcement, he also recognized the harm done by the Japanese military in the early 20th century.

Abe’s statements on Friday were unexpected from the right-wing Prime Minister, presenting him as more moderate on this historical issue that has divided Asia for over 100 years. In addition, he showed a shift from his pre-election stance, whereby he questioned whether Japan’s imperial military had, in fact, coerced women.

Some in Japan wonder why it took so long for Mr. Abe to reaffirm the apologies. Japanese officials suggested that the recent proclamation is part of a strategy for the Prime Minister to repair the relationship with South Korea. He may try to connect with South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye, at an international summit meeting in the Netherlands this month to discuss nuclear security.

President Park had heretofore refused to meet with the Japanese Prime Minister until he reissued an apology for the brutal colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945. She had expressed concern that Japan was trying to dismiss past atrocities without sign of remorse. Ms. Park cited Germany’s repentance for its past wrongs as precedence for Japan’s renewed apology. Korea’s support is ever important to Japan today as an ally as Japan faces the challenge of China’s recent revival. In fact, President Park said that Japan would find itself isolated politically should it choose to renege on its earlier apology.

It is important for Japan to apologize to South Korea because most of the women who served as sex slaves during the war came from South Korea. Moreover, President Park is a strong advocate for women. To simply forget the past is untenable to Ms. Park, who as Korea’s first female president, pledged a “women’s revolution” when she came into office in December 2012. And, because of Ms. Park’s personal history in which her father – a prior president – was assassinated, it is essential that Abe uphold Japan’s promise.

Japan has not been more forceful with its apology because some nationalist lawmakers in Japan have said that to do so would disgrace the soldiers who died for Japan. They claim also that there is insufficient evidence to prove the claim. However, 16 women who were compelled to work in sexual servitude during the war testified in 1993, leading to the apology at that time. Appearing contrite, Japan’s Abe spoke of the importance of being humble before history.

Prime Minister Abe’s demeanor was welcomed by President Park. She stated that she was pleased that the 1993 apology was being upheld. She expressed that this would be an opportunity to ease the pain of the victims of Japan’s sex slaves during World War II.

By Fern Remedi-Brown

The New York Times
Time World
Huff Post World
The Korea Times, National
South China Morning Post: Asia
The New York Times, Asia Pacific

2 Responses to "Japan War Sex Slaves Apology Upheld"

  1. Roger Rogers   March 21, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Would the Korean men complain for 70 years if all the Japanese soldiers were female in WW2 and had lots of sex with the men of Korea, whilst carrying out their military endeavors in the region?

    Being that we live in a world of equality now.

    Would Korean men whine on for 70 years for having had sex?

  2. Roger Rogers   March 20, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    “Apologies are fine; but Japan must not ignore the crimes of the countries they invaded to protect their future. If that is mentioned withing the apology; then it is in historical context.
    Does Denmark still have to apologise for sending rapists to the UK during the Viking era? Does France still have to apologise for invading the UK in 1066? Does the UK apologise to the American Injuns for invading the USA?”

    What about the rapes the chinese committed repeatedly in its wars for generations also; Do they apologise? Do the Koreans (or would butter not melt in their mouth through history (where they joined with the chinese and Monglos to try and wipe out and take over Japan through history?
    Its why southern Korea used to be Japanese after that, as they had no males left a thousand years ago or so.

    Should I just ignore the uneducated?
    Am I being victimised for not being gay? Its a MYSTERY.


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