While any move to revise a landmark apology by then-Chief Cabinet secretary Yohei Kono will definitely anger Japan’s neighbors, namely China and South Korea, still some nationalist Japanese legislators again called on the government to revise it. The lawmakers called the accounts of women who were forced into sexual slavery a “total lie,” thus asking the Abe administration to correct it.
While the current government through Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said it plans on setting a team up to review the testimonies given by Korean “comfort women,” no direct statement on revising or watering the apology down has been made. Nationalist Japan Restoration Party member Noriake Nakayama shrugged off the belief that mass recruitment of women forced to sexual labor has been made. Speaking to a jam-packed gathering, he said ‘The things Korea is saying…that 200,000 were forcibly recruited, are a complete and total lie.” On the other hand, former Air Force Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami, who resigned in 2008 for writing an essay that says Japan is not a war aggressor, called on Japan to “transmit its views more strongly.” He added, “China and Korea are countries that, even if they lie, don’t feel pain in their hearts. But we Japanese do feel pain if we lie.” He said that seeking for the revision of the public apology is a declaration to “protect Japan’s honor.”
Meanwhile, other key people in Japan, such as former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, who made a public apology in 1995 for Japan’s wartime aggression, recognized that the forcible employment of women to sexual slavery was made by military men “out of operational necessities” and does not merit a review in the testimonies. “As long as it is clear, I don’t see why it is necessary to investigate further to see what happened and what did not,” he said. Abe’s previous administration in 2006-2007 maintained that there is no evidence to prove the military or government officials took the women by force. He, at that time, stressed that the position on the matter is the stance taken by previous governments.