A senior U.S. congressman advised the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to abstain from re-examining a 1993 public apology to Korean women who were victims of forced sexual labor during the Second World War. Representative Mike Honda of California’s 17th district called the move to revise the Kono Statement a “mistake.”
Honda, a human rights champion and the grandson of Japanese immigrants, said Japan should not “water down what already seems to be a soft comment” included in the Kono Statement, acknowledging Japan’s military men who have forcibly employed women as sex slaves. Speaking to reporters via conference call, Honda said, ‘It is not an issue of pitting the Japanese people against the U.S. people, against Koreans, but it’s an issue that the Japanese government must address now.” Honda also emphasized that the “comfort women” issue, while it deals primarily with women and certain countries, is first and foremost a human rights issue. He added that there is a time element s well, as only less than a hundred of the 200,000 former sex slaves remain alive and all are already in their 80s. “The Japanese government must give formal and unequivocal apology to these women. Statements of personal regret are not enough,” said Honda.
Honda was the author of the 2007 House Resolution 121 calling for Japan to make an apology over the forcible sexual slavery. He also led an effort to incorporate language on the matter into a spending bill for 2014 that President Barack Obama signed into a law last January. Secretary of State John Kerry was advised, through a nonbinding document, to bring up the issue when he meets with Japan in the future.
[via Yonhap News]
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