Kono statement will not be changed, Suga says

JIJI, Kyodo

The Abe administration will not revise the 1993 Kono statement, in which Japan admitted to forcing women to work at military brothels during the war, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday.

But he repeated that the government will conduct additional research to examine the testimony given by former “comfort women,” Japan’s euphemism for the sex slaves, that formed a key component in drawing up the statement issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

In the Kono statement, the government recognized that some administrative and military members were directly involved in recruiting the women, including tens of thousands of Koreans, who were forced to provide sex for Imperial Japanese troops before and during World War II.

Suga’s comment is the first by a ranking official clearly stating that the administration doesn’t intend to change the statement itself since the Abe team moved last month to re-examine the testimony.

Suga said the research will be carried out in strict secrecy, after it was suggested that Japan and South Korea may have coordinated views in drafting the statement. He added that the outcome of the probe will be submitted to the Diet if requested.

Suga’s comment may draw criticism from people seeking to revise the statement, such as nationalist members of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party).

At a meeting of the Lower House Budget Committee on Feb. 20, former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobuo Ishihara, who was involved in compiling the Kono statement, said the government did not double-check the statements of the interviewed former comfort women.

Suga announced the plan for further research in response to Ishihara’s comment, drawing fire from South Korea.

“This is an added insult to the honor and dignity of the victims,” South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told the U.N. Human Rights Council last week.