SEOUL – Former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said Wednesday that Japan committed “indescribable wrongdoings” by forcing women from South Korea and elsewhere to serve as wartime sex slaves.
Murayama, who as prime minister issued an apology in 1995 for Japan’s wartime aggression, said it is time for the government to finally resolve the issue of the “comfort women” who were drafted into military brothels.
“Indescribable wrongdoings were committed, in which these women’s dignity was forfeited. Japan must solve it,” he said in a speech in the South Korean parliament building.
Murayama, 89, met Tuesday with three elderly South Korean ex-comfort women, after which he said he realized “that this issue must be settled expeditiously.”
He also criticized some Japanese politicians and pundits for making “nonsensical remarks” about the former sex slaves and stressed that the vast majority of Japanese people understand the wrong that was committed. Katsuto Momii, the new chairman of NHK, angered Seoul by stating that wartime sex slavery was common to any country at war.
Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula remains a hugely emotional issue in South Korea. Relations hit a new low in December when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited war-linked Yasukuni Shrine.
Murayama arrived in Seoul on Tuesday for a three-day visit. He reportedly requested a meeting with President Park Geun-hye but was turned down on account of her “busy schedule.”