SEOUL – South Korean President Park Geun-hye has welcomed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assurance that his administration will not retract Japan’s 1993 apology for forcing women into wartime sexual slavery.
Park was quoted as saying by a presidential spokesman that Seoul was “glad” to hear Abe on Friday tell an Upper House Budget Committee session that “I’m not thinking about revising (the 1993 Kono statement) under my Cabinet.”
Park was also quoted as expressing hope that Abe’s remark will see the start of stronger relations between South Korea and Japan, as well as among other Northeast Asian countries.
The 1993 apology was made by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. It acknowledged for the first time the Imperial Japanese Army’s role in coercing women, mostly Koreans, to provide sex for its soldiers at military brothels before and during World War II.
Relations between Tokyo and Seoul have soured recently due to the “comfort women,” as they are euphemistically called in Japan, as well as a territorial row over a pair of South Korean-held islets in the Sea of Japan.