• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 3:52pm

'Comfort women' claims not corroborated, Japanese review finds, but 1993 apology stands

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 June, 2014, 3:53am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 June, 2014, 6:40am

An inflammatory Japanese review has concluded there is no corroboration of evidence given by former so-called "comfort women".

But the government said it would not change Japan's 1993 apology over wartime sex slavery despite the finding.

South Korea's foreign ministry expressed "deep regret" at the review results, which it said "distorted facts" and "undermined" the 1993 apology.

Tokyo's response, which observers say is a messy compromise that looks set to satisfy no one, came as South Korea put on a show of force, holding a rare live-fire drill near islets at the centre of its territorial dispute with Tokyo.

The government of conservative Prime Minster Shinzo Abe said earlier this year it would not reverse the apology, known as the Kono statement, which was issued under a liberal government and acknowledged official complicity in the practice for the first time.

The review, launched as an apparent sop to fellow right-wingers, was putatively established to examine how the decision to apologise was reached, and on what facts it was based.

"There is no change in the government's position to uphold" the 1993 apology, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said after the review was submitted to parliament.

"There is no change in Japan's position that we feel our hearts aching over those who suffered hardships that are beyond all description."

About 200,000 women, mainly from Korea but also from China, were forced to work in brothels as "comfort women", serving imperial troops before and during the second world war.

While mainstream opinion holds that the wartime government was culpable, a small but vocal tranche of the political right - including Abe - continues to cast doubt, claiming the brothels were staffed by professional prostitutes.

Suga said Tokyo would give details of the probe by a five-member "verifying team" to Seoul soon, adding no diplomatic slight had been intended with the probe.

Japan's right-wingers would like the apology revoked, something Abe was always under huge international pressure to avoid.

But undermining the evidence on which it is based will further anger historical doves and neighbouring countries.

The issue is a volatile one in South Korea, where feelings run high that Japan has never properly made amends despite a 1965 treaty normalising ties that involved a multibillion-dollar settlement in regard to property and claims.

The issue also infuriates China, which regularly castigates Tokyo on its attitude to the past.


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This article is now closed to comments

The Abe government brings disgrace to Japan.
Daniel Lee
The Japanese government review of the 1993 apology over the sex-slaves issue have jut one purpose and that is to undermine the Japanese apology which the Shinzo Abe government succeeded in doing. By claiming that the evidence is not corroborated the Shinzo Abe government should have withdrawn the 1993 apology but it didn't. The Japanese government is playing with fire. Japan is truly an uncivilised, savage and dishonourable country with no future.
This is a shameful act by the Japanese Government and its quest to satisfy the cowardice Right Wingers. History should be respected and preserved. Fact finding missions in regards to matters such of grave importance should be delegated to an United Nations Panel of independent experts to ensure total objectivity.
To undermine the evidence underlying the apology is a lame act and one for the record books as king of cowardice.
This should be condemned with utmost tenacity.
Jonathan Smith
The Shinzo Abe's government review of the Japanese 1993 apology over the 'Comfort women' or sex slaves issue is an act of perfidy. For the current Japanese government to weaken or go back on the apologies of previous Japanese government just show that the Japanese government today under Shinzo Abe is Japan's worse enemy.
Extremely regrettable, misguided and foolish.
If anything a reinforcement and echo of the apology should be stated, NOT a half assed attempt to soften or retract.
It won't take long and the right winger will review that the war, the slaughter in Asia was righteous, the right thing to do for Japan and Japan did nothing wrong. It is already in their books.
Another one of Abe's revisionist schemes - denial of past atrocities, but grudgingly will not retract apologies made by previous administration.
This is to brainwash the younger Japanese generations that Japan is "righteous" and not the ugly Japanese that is the reality.
What ridiculous findings, either it is true or false.
If true, admit, apologize and go on.
If false, deny and retract previous apologies.
I am afraid that there are no grey areas to hide.
Formerly ******
It's too bad the Japan's politicians are catering to a rapidly-aging voter demographic by dwelling on this issue. It should cut it losses by admitting to the obvious and move on, as did Germany.
Japan has a very successful national (nationalistic) education, which brainwash, brainwash and brainwash its own people. But when Japanese people have the opportunity to read about the history of WW2 and connect with people and cultures outside of Japan, they are shocked and become schizophrenic. Many of these Japanese find themselves difficult fitting into the world as a global citizen. Poor Japanese!


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