Japanese official says government won’t revise sex slave apology

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

Responding to criticism from a former U.S. ambassador to Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Tuesday the administration is not considering revising a key apology to wartime sex slaves.

Former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer reportedly told a symposium Friday in Washington that revising the statement, issued by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993, would gravely damage Japanese interests in both Asia and the U.S.

“I don’t think I have ever said we are conducting a study that could include revision” of the Kono statement, Suga told a news conference when asked to comment on Schieffer’s remarks. “Our basic policy is that this issue should not be made an either diplomatic or political issues.”

The victims, known as “comfort women,” were forced into military brothels for Japanese troops during the war. Given the harsh conditions they faced, the women were often described as sex slaves by non-Japanese media.

The Kono statement has been regarded as a key and straightforward government statement admitting Japanese authorities’ responsibility for forcing the women to provide sex at military brothels.

During the campaign last year for the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose party was then the opposition, said he would issue a replacement statement. But after taking power in December, Abe has toned down his rhetoric and stopped specifically talking about revising the Kono statement.

  • KenjiAd

    The usual tactics of revisionists (negationists) is a three-step endeavor: (1) narrowly define one debating point for the history they wish to dispute, (2) find flaws in the evidences that their opponents often use, and (3) argue that therefore you can’t trust anything their opponents say.

    This tactics works quite well, because the target population they are trying to fool, young Japanese people in this case, tend to have an intrinsic bias to favor the idea that would depict Japan in a favorable color.

    To revise the history surrounding so-called “comfort women,” the revisionists have zeroed into the following question (see step 1 above): was the Japanese military involved in kidnapping Korean women, or otherwise forcibly taking them to make them sex slaves? They have argued, among other things, that some of the previous testimonies to implicate the military’s involvement were fraudulent (step 2). So they make people believe the idea that there is no solid proof that the Japanese military forced Korean girls into sexual slavery (step 3).

    A lot of young Japanese people fell into this trap, unfortunately.

    But the real issue should never be about the semantics of what exactly “forced” means, nor the definition of “involvement” (of Japanese military). There is a whole spectrum of “forced” activities, ranging from putting a gun to someone’s head to taking advantage of someone’s financial situation to coerce her to do things she doesn’t want to do. Let academicians to sort out those things.

    What I think Japanese people should remember (I’m a Japanese guy by the way) is that, because of the war Japan started, a lot of young Korean girls ended up working as providers of sexual pleasure to the Japanese soldiers, almost certainly against their will.

    So my challenge to the revisionists like Abe is this. Show me the evidence, any evidence that most of these girls were happily volunteering for their job.