In a move that is set to incense neighboring China and South Korea, Japan is mulling on revising its landmark apology on the issue of wartime sexual slaves, according to a top official. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the interviews given by the “comfort women” forced into sexual labor during World War II would be reviewed.
The 1993 public apology, also known as the Kono Statement, is based on the statements of comfort women. Suga said that, “The testimonies of comfort women were taken on the same premise of their being closed-door sessions. The government will consider whether there can be a revision while preserving the confidence in which they were given.” This is following a survey conducted by the nationalistic daily Sankei Shimbun, which showed that 59 percent of those who responded are in favor of revising the apology. A statement by the new NHK chief Katsuto Momii added fuel to the fire last month when he said that sexual slavery was common in nations engaged in war, and is only wrong based on modern morality.
Suga told members of the parliament that the government “would like to consider” establishing a team that would verify the accounts of the 16 women on an academic perspective. Former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobuo Ishihara, who was instrumental in coming out with the Kono statement, told parliament that the government did not verify the statements given by the victims to check the authenticity of their accounts. He said that, “There were no materials that directly substantiate forcible recruitment by the Japanese government of by the military, but considering their testimonies we could not deny there was that sort of conduct among recruiters.”
Historians claim that around 200,000 women from China, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan were forced into sexual labor in Japanese army brothels during the WWII. The Kono Statement given in 1993 was Japan’s way of amending past mistakes and repairing the strained relationship with Korea during that period.
[via Channel News Asia]