In what may perhaps be an example of fine political showmanship, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday managed to convey his empathy towards women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II while still maintaining his stance on the historical uncertainty of Japan’s involvement.
At a Lower House session, Abe was grilled by Japanese Communist Party head Kazuo Shii about the plight of “comfort women” or women from China, Korea, and the Philippines who were forced into sexual slavery during the second World War. He said that he feels heart-breaking pain when thinking of the sufferings that these women went through but remained firm on his stance. Media has previously reported Abe as completely denying the existence of comfort women. Abe, however, clarified that he was arguing only the lack of historical documents that prove that the Japanese Imperial Army were involved in the forceful recruiting of women who would later serve as “comfort women”. Some historians agree that there might be lack of historical evidence but pointed out that the army directly managed such brothels and would, therefore, be aware of how the women were brought there.
Shii said that Abe’s statements contradicted those made in 1993 by then Cabinet Chief Secretary Yohei Kono admitting the responsibility of the Japanese army and authorities in the issue. Abe replied that being the prime minister he must refrain from commenting on the statement and should defer the issue to the current Chief Cabinet Secretary. He also said that it is a historical issue and should not be made into a political or diplomatic problem.