Nationalists press Abe to revisit Kono apology

Nippon Ishin ranks, others slam basis for 'comfort women' statement


Staff Writer

Right-wing lawmakers are leaning harder on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to re-evaluate the government’s 1993 apology for the enslavement of women to serve as prostitutes for Japan’s wartime forces, in the face of international criticism against such an effort.

Members of the conservative Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and other parties Monday held a public meeting to discuss their staunch opposition to the Kono statement, issued in 1993 by Yohei Kono, who was chief Cabinet secretary under then-Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa.

With the Kono statement, the government admitted for the first time that females were recruited against their will, including through coercion, to provide sex for Imperial Japanese soldiers and that the military at times played a direct role in rounding them up. The statement was drafted based on documents and testimony given by 16 Korean former “comfort women” picked by Seoul.

Some 500 people who attended Monday’s meeting, held on Girls’ Day, fervently applauded each time lawmakers said the statement was based on “falsifications” and called Kono a traitor. Nippon Ishin has about 60 members in the Diet.

Among the lawmakers was the senior vice minister of education, Yoshitaka Sakurada, who was warned Monday by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga not to attend because “it could cause misunderstanding.” The Abe Cabinet has so far maintained that it has “inherited” the views of its predecessors, including the Kono statement.

A voluntary resolution was adopted at the end of the meeting to demand that the government rethink the statement and summon Kono and former Ambassador to China Sakutaro Tanino, who were involved in drafting the statement, to the Diet.

“I heard from a former Japanese soldier that the comfort women thanked the military because they were able to send money back home. . . . The South Korean allegation that the Imperial Japanese military made women serve as sex slaves or forcefully recruited some 200,000 women is fabricated,” said Nippon Ishin member Nariaki Nakayama of the Lower House.

In Lower House Budget Committee debates over the past several weeks, Nippon Ishin member Hiroshi Yamada has grilled the conservative Abe’s team on the 1993 statement, claiming the Imperial Japanese Army never forcefully recruited females against their will and that the testimony of the 16 should be re-examined because it was never validated.

In response, Suga last week said the government would launch a team to re-examine the statement and share the results with the Diet. Suga also said the group will look into a report by the conservative Sankei Shimbun that said the 1993 statement was a collaborative effort by Seoul and Tokyo.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye last Saturday warned Japan not to revisit the apology. Yet some news reports indicate the Japanese public might support the move. A recent poll, by the Sankei, said that some 60 percent of the public thinks the statement should be re-examined.

“If the testimony is based on truth, the South Korean government should encourage us to scrutinize it. They are against it because they are aware that there are some issues with the statement,” Yamada said at the meeting.

Information from Kyodo added

  • Gumpchun

    I must say, as someone who supports Japan and its ability to assert its rights and role in Asia with confidence and forthrightness, this action by ultra-rightists in Japan is beyond deplorable. It is 100% false, deeply damaging to Japan and its role and stature in the world, and will harm relations with America very badly.

    It is simply inconceivable to me how such a monstrous and shameful action to re-examine the comfort women apology could be undertaken at a time when Asia desperately needs honest, productive and close relations between nations like South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines.

    Prime Minister Abe and his extremist party is in danger of destroying the good feeling in America towards Japan, permanently isolating the Japanese people from Asia and the rest of the world, and, perhaps worst of all, lying to its own children and next generation about the sins of World War II whcih Japan can and must face with decency and strength.

    This kind of self-serving, bogus, and deeply dishonorable behaviour will destroy Japan’s future if continued. As someone who wants Japan to flourish, loves Japan and the Japanese people, and who yearns to see Japan taking true leadership in the world on issues like human rights and green technology, this is deeply, deeply disturbing and makes me feel the kind of anguish that Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos and others who suffered horribly at the hands of Japan must feel. The Japanese people must stand up and stop this and face reality and the crimes, deep in your hearts. That is the only way to stop these monsters in Abe’s party.

    I understand it is very, very, very hard to condemn your ancestors and grandparents in a Confucian society. But it must be done to create a clean soul for Japan. In America, our direct ancestors committed genocide against Native Indians, and enslaved and murdered millions of black human beings. America’s great-grandfathers and even grandfathers did monstrous things and lynching survived into the 1960s. This is a shame to all of us Americans, and on all our ancestors, who were not great and perfect, but were in fact many mean and criminal.

    America’s ancestors did massive criminal things, and we cannot hide or excuse or try to deny it. MOst of us have family members who committed these crimes in the past, and these ancestors are a shame to us. We do not have to honor such ancestors, we need to see them for who they were: people who were of their time and who did evil. In America everyone but a lunatic fringe says what our ancestors did was wrong and a disgrace to humanity.

    Japan must do the same thing. It is hard but it can be done. Look at Germany. By doing so, Japan will have a moral base from which to lead the world. But if you just act like a tribe, lie and cover up your crimes and refuse to be strong enough to call your own grandparents wrong, you will never be a great people. Ever. You will be nothing more than a hardworking but soulless society that is sick in its heart.

    I tremble at the thought of such a sick, diseased Japan. I love Japan so much, its culture, its decency, its art, all the people I have met who are wonderful. Please, please, turn away from Abe and his shameful re-evaluation. Be the Japan that shows the world how to confront your own failing and past with honesty, courage and truth.

    If you fail, we all fail.

  • Jae-hwan Jung

    MR. Abe said that his govenment do conform the statements issued by the previous governments and that was just yesterday!