Newspaper article China Post

Abe Takes a Good First Step toward Reconciliation

Newspaper article China Post

Abe Takes a Good First Step toward Reconciliation

Article excerpt

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave an answer to a question during a meeting of the Upper House Budget Committee last Friday, in which he said that his government would not revise the position on "comfort women" that previous Japanese administrations have held. He put to an end the fear that a review of the statements on sex slaves - euphemistically called "comfort women" - made by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993 and by Prime Ministers Tomiichi Murayama and Junichiro Koizumi in 1995 and 2005 respectively would lead to a further exacerbation of relations with South Korea and China.

Abe pointed out his Cabinet "upholds the position on the recognition of history outlined by the previous administrations in its entirety," adding "with regard to the comfort women issue, I am deeply pained to think of the comfort women who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering, a feeling I share equally with my predecessors." He picked up the Kono statement in particular and quoted his Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshide Suga as stating it wouldn't be revised. In a previous press conference, Suga said no revision would be made, but the review would continue.

The Kono statement admits that the Japanese Imperial Army forced women in South Korea, China and Taiwan to work in military-run brothels before and during the Second World War. The Japanese government had denied that the women had been coerced until Kono acknowledged that the Japanese Imperial Army was involved, directly or indirectly, in the establishment of comfort facilities and that coercion had been used in the recruitment and retention of the women. His subsequent call for historical research and education aimed at remembering the issue became the basis for addressing the subject of forced prostitution in school history textbooks.

The statement was welcomed in South Korea. It also led to the creation of the Asian Women's Fund, which provided aid and support for women who had been forced into prostitution during the war. …

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