Appended with more than 14,400 signatures collected at home and abroad, Japanese peace activists handed a statement to the government Thursday calling on the prime minister to extend a fresh official apology and compensation to women exploited as sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese Army.
Added to the 5,004 South Korean, 360 Taiwanese and seven German signatures were thousands collected from Japanese on the street.
The action was prompted by a comment made earlier this month by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who asserted there was no documented evidence that the army directly and "forcibly" coerced women into the frontline brothels.
Shoji Rutsuko of Violence Against Women in War-Network Japan said that even if Abe said he stood by the 1993 apology, he did not stop his aides, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Hakubun Shimomura, from saying the opposite. This, Shoji asserted, makes it hard "to trust the government."