Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated on Tuesday that the Japanese government will not be reviewing its stance on the issue of “comfort women,” or those who were forced into sexual slavery during Japan’s colonization of Asia during World War II. This new decision is a reversal of a plan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made shortly after being elected in late December.
Known as the “Kono Statement,” that which was to be reviewed was made in 1993 by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, acknowledging the military’s responsibility in forcing women to serve the Japanese Imperial Army, as well as offering an apology to the victims. Since stating his plan to review the 20-year old statement, Prime Minister Abe has been widely criticized by governments and leaders across Asia, most of all China and South Korea. Even the U.S. has advised against making any revisions to Tokyo’s stance on wartime aggressions, with former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer commenting last week that such actions would be damaging to Japanese interests.
Suga said that the Abe administration doesn’t want the historical controversy to become a political or diplomatic issue. In a different statement, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a news conference that Abe is in agreement with the apology made in 1995 for all of Japan’s acts of aggression in Asia, made by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. Kishida acknowledged that Japan caused a tremendous amount of damage and suffering to those in Asia during WWII, adding that the nation’s government has accepted the facts of history and expresses its feelings of remorse and mourning for all victims.
Most recently China and South Korea have been angered by Abe’s remarks last month about wartime incidents, as well as a visit by nearly 170 lawmakers to the Yasukuni Shrine, a controversial monument dedicated to the Japanese who died in war. The prime minister spoke before parliament, questioning the definition of the word “invasion” and how its meaning can vary to different countries. In order to address these tensions, Foreign Minister Kishida said that the government needs to make much greater effort to explain to the international community its views of history.
[via Global Post]