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Japan won't modify apology to WWII sex slaves

By Mari Yamaguchi

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:26 a.m. HST, May 08, 2013

TOKYO » Japan has acknowledged that it conducted only a limited investigation before claiming there was no official evidence that its imperial troops coerced Asian women into sexual slavery before and during World War II.

A parliamentary statement signed Tuesday (Monday in Hawaii) by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged the government had a set of documents produced by a postwar international military tribunal containing testimony by Japanese soldiers about abducting Chinese women as military sex slaves. That evidence apparently was not included in Japan's only investigation of the issue, in 1991-1993.

Tuesday's parliamentary statement also said documents showing forcible sex slavery may still exist. The statement did not say whether the government plans to consider the documents as evidence showing that troops had coerced women into sexual slavery.

Over the past two days, top officials of Abe's conservative government have appeared to soften their stance on Japan's past apologies to neighboring countries for wartime atrocities committed by the Imperial Army, saying Japan does not plan to revise them.

The backtracking appears intended to allay criticisms of Abe's earlier vows to revise the apologies, including an acknowledgment of sexual slavery during the war, and calm tensions with neighbors South Korea and China. The U.S. government also has raised concerns about Abe's nationalist agenda.

Abe has acknowledged so-called "comfort women" existed but denied they were coerced into prostitution, citing a lack of official evidence. He also has repeatedly vowed to reassess apologies by past Japanese administrations.

The parliamentary statement, released Tuesday and seen by the Associated Press on Wednesday, was in response to an official inquiry last month to the upper house of Parliament by opposition lawmaker Tomoko Kami, who said the government's investigation into sex slavery was "insufficient" and documents it claimed to have collected were incomplete.

Kami, of the Japan Communist Party, also asked whether the government had ever updated its archives to reflect more recent findings than the earlier investigation. The answer was no.

The statement acknowledged documents produced by the 1946-1948 International Military Tribunal for the Far East, held in Tokyo, but said they were not in the Cabinet Secretariat's archives. It did not say when the documents were found or whether they are reflected in any official statements about sexual slavery.

Abe also has criticized the tribunal's decisions as "condemnation by the allied victors' judgment," but has said he's in no position to object to the rulings Japan had already accepted.

The parliamentary statement described the 1993 findings as "the result of an all-out and sincere investigation" that brought "closure." But it said the government is open to updates if new findings are valid.

"Due to the nature of the issue, there is a possibility that previously unavailable documents may be discovered. In such a case, we are asking related ministries and offices to report to the Cabinet," it said.

The documents quote testimony from Japanese soldiers saying they recruited women by posting advertisements for factory workers and "threatened them and used them as prostitutes for the bestial lust of the troops."

One army lieutenant testified that he helped set up a brothel for soldiers including himself, forcing five women in the city of Guilin in southern China to work as prostitutes for eight months.

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that Japan recognizes the harm it caused during its invasion and occupation of much of Asia, and that it has repeatedly and clearly stated that position.

"The Abe government has expressed sincere condolences to all victims of the war, in and out of the country, and there is no change in that," Suga said in response to a question about a comment by South Korean President Park Geun-hye, published in The Washington Post this week, asserting that Japan should correct its view of its wartime history.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida echoed Suga's remarks.

"The Japanese government has accepted the facts of history in a spirit of humility, expressed once again our feelings of deep remorse and our heartfelt apology, and expressed our feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad," he told reporters. "And Prime Minister Abe shares the same view."

China and South Korea have reacted harshly to recent nationalistic events and remarks, including visits by several Japanese government ministers and nearly 170 lawmakers to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which memorializes 2.3 million war dead, including 14 wartime leaders convicted of war crimes. Rancor over territorial disputes has further strained relations between Japan and its neighbors.

Only in the past two decades has Japan acknowledged some of its past brutalities, including medical atrocities and use of poison gas, as well as sexual slavery — a legacy that still haunts Tokyo's relations with its neighbors.

Before he took office in December, Abe had advocated revising a 1993 statement by then-Prime Minister Yohei Kono expressing remorse for the suffering caused to the sexual slaves of Japanese troops.

Associated Press writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed to this report.

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sailfish1 wrote:
Why is there little mention of the brothels that the U.S. military set up in Japan for Americans and American soldiers? The girls working in the brothels were not American - guess what nationality they were.
on May 8,2013 | 05:12AM
localguy wrote:
Would you post your verified reference links to this information? Inquiring minds want to know.
on May 8,2013 | 05:21AM
mrluke wrote:
Post WW II prostitution in Japan was run by the Japanese, and U.S. commanders were complicit in allowing it to exist. The big difference is that there were no $ex slaves being held by U.S. troops.
on May 8,2013 | 08:01AM
Morimoto wrote:
Yes it was run by the Japanese government but the reason was to protect ordinary Japanese civilian women from sexual assault, which was rampant at that time. So while there is a difference, both were equally barbaric.
on May 8,2013 | 09:43AM
Morimoto wrote:
It's less of a story because they weren't at war at the time and therefore would be a less sensational story for the public. Also because the allies were supposedly the "good guys" the media doesn't want to report on stories that will portray them in a bad light. More simply put it's because the winners write the history books?
on May 8,2013 | 09:47AM
romei wrote:
This story or Japan also didn't acknowledge they did this sexual attrocities as well in the Phillipines ~
on May 8,2013 | 08:08AM
likewise wrote:
And Nanking. Google "r@pe of nanking" if you want to spoil your breakfast.
on May 8,2013 | 08:32AM
Morimoto wrote:
I guess they're taking a cue from America.
on May 8,2013 | 09:48AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Many Asian women did indeed provide “comfort” services to the Japanese Imperial Forces during World War II, but I do not believe they did it at the point of a gun nor was it sexual slavery. Throughout history, military forces have had no problem finding “comfort women” regardless of the country in which they operated and they were able to find them without kidnapping, coercion or threats of any kind. Wars create horrible conditions which cause people to resort to often unthinkable means to survive. For many women, it was the use of their bodies, and there usually was more supply than demand. I personally witness this during the Korean War and during two years in Vietnam. Some members of the Imperial Japanese forces no doubt forced women to have sex, which, of course, is rape, but I believe the “comfort women” who served the Imperial Japanese forces in brothels that sprung up and operated near Japanese bases did so voluntarily for pay. If it was “sexual slavery” as some victims no claim, one has to wonder why it took almost 50 after World War II for any of them to come forward and make the allegation. I wonder if potential financial compensation had anything to do with it.
on May 8,2013 | 11:22AM
juscasting wrote:
The biggest difference my fellow Vet is that we were liberators in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, not conquerors. The Imperial Army treated them with little or no value because they were taught to believe that the Koreans and Chinese were sub humans.
on May 8,2013 | 03:20PM
Ronin006 wrote:
There is a problem with what you seem to be presenting as historical fact. The US did not liberate Japan, Germany and Italy in World War II, it conquered them. And during the occupation that followed, US forces enjoyed the services of “comfort women” from these conquered countries who did it to survive. Conqueror or liberator, "comfort women" will always be there.
on May 8,2013 | 04:51PM
mrluke wrote:
Yes, prostitutes will always be there, and always have, as well as women and others who willingly collaborated with "conquerers". Seems like a lot of posters missed the point of the whole story. The Japanese rounded up, kidnapped, intimidated and held held these unfortunate women against their will by fear, threats and abuse.
on May 8,2013 | 08:57PM
bokuchan wrote:
You are missing and misleading the point. You are just reiterating Chinese and Korean propaganda.
on May 8,2013 | 10:14PM
bokuchan wrote:
There are many Chinese and Koreans posting here disguised to promote these lies and propaganda. There issues are used by Chinese and Koreans as an anti-Japanese propaganda. Just look around yourself, read the current events and decide for yourself if Chinese and Koreans are worthy of listening to. Hey StarAdvertiser - can you post the country statistics of where these posting/comments are originated? thanks george
on May 8,2013 | 05:04PM
mrluke wrote:
There are still Nazi sympathizers who deny that Germany ran death camps!
on May 8,2013 | 08:59PM
LadyNinja wrote:
I'd like to see references to this also. It would be a great school project.
on May 8,2013 | 08:02PM
mrluke wrote:
Maybe you could open a book and read about it!
on May 8,2013 | 08:59PM
engineersoldier wrote:
Different moral standards of Japan at the time notwithstanding, Japan's refusal to apologize in a straight forward manner keeps her being more trusted around the world. Same for the concocted logic they insist on using for their continued whaling, against world criticism. It's in their culture to be indirect and less transparent, but they need to understand how this hurts their public image.
on May 8,2013 | 09:21PM
LMO wrote:
I worked in Germany in the 1990s. The younger Germans (in their 50s and younger) deny any responsibility for WWII, and claim that Allied forces also liberated them. Talk about rewriting history!
on May 9,2013 | 03:54AM
hikine wrote:
Asian countries has always had 'comfort girls' even before the war. Women are treated as second class citizens in Asia and beat them if they don't do as they're told! Japan is no exception during and post war.
on May 9,2013 | 04:30AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Take away the fancy technology and we can see that nothing has changed on this corrupted world.
on May 9,2013 | 05:46AM
HD36 wrote:
What goes around comes around as Korean bars hustle the Japanese and anyone dumb enough to go inside.
on May 9,2013 | 04:31PM
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