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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Abe pressed again on sex slavery

Staff writer

Saying that true friendship between their countries depended on it, visiting South Korean lawmaker Yoo Ki Hong on Friday urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to officially recognize and apologize for the wartime sexual enslavement of women and girls in Japanese-occupied Asia.

The international outcry over the sex slavery issue has reached a fever pitch since the U.S. House of Representatives began in January working on a resolution demanding an official apology from Abe.

Speaking on an NHK program on March 11, Abe offered an apology to the former "comfort women" -- as Japan euphemistically called them -- for the hardships they suffered and their lasting scars, although his comments were largely seen as an attempt to dampen the ongoing uproar.

But the prime minister has repeatedly stressed that no official document has ever turned up proving the Japanese military was directly involved in coercing women and girls into the brothels.

Yoo, a 48-year-old member of the ruling Uri Party, slammed Abe's statements.

"I don't believe that Abe's statements denying the comfort women (a further apology) was a fleeting mistake," Yoo told a news conference in Tokyo. "Abe and other heartless Japanese lawmakers have repeatedly made distorted comments on the comfort women issue."

Yoo, head the Committee for the Instruction of A Correct View of History, comprised of 110 South Korean lawmakers, also submitted a written request to Abe through the Foreign Ministry.

The statement demands that Abe "acknowledge Japan's mobilization of comfort women and its crimes against humanity, and officially apologize to the victims" and to "stop distorting Japan's history textbooks and start teaching students about Japan's aggressive war crimes, including the comfort women issue."

Yoo pointed to the 1970 example of then West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who dropped to his knees at a ceremony in Warsaw to symbolically atone for the crimes committed by Nazi Germany in World War II.

"If (Abe) sincerely wants a true South Korea-Japan friendship as well as peace in Asia, he should apologize for the past war crimes."

For more stories related to the wartime sex slaves issue.

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The Japan Times

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