Activists claim proof Japan complicit in sex slavery


Activists say they have obtained hundreds of documents proving the Japanese military was complicit in wartime sex slavery.

The Asian Solidarity Conference said Monday it has more than 500 papers — many of them government documents — that support the 1993 government apology, which said Japan was sorry for the coercive brothel system.

Some historians say up to 200,000 Asian women, many of them from the Korean Peninsula, were forced to work in military brothels catering to Japanese troops during World War II.

Despite the apology to the so-called comfort women and a 1965 deal normalizing ties with Seoul, which aimed to settle all outstanding claims for wartime wrongs, the issue continues to mar relations.

While many Japanese accept the country is guilty, there are senior politicians on the right — including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — who have suggested that the issue is overblown.

Some nationalists regularly question Japan’s responsibility, claiming there is no reliable evidence of official complicity or even involvement in the sex slavery system.

Last week, Abe’s government said it would set up an expert team to review how the 1993 statement was drawn up, as well as the historical facts on which it was based.

The conference said Tokyo should be open and honest about its guilt and that there should be no backtracking on the 1993 apology, called the Kono Statement.

“We hereby submit 529 items of official documents, researched and discovered by academics and civilians at home and abroad to further expose the facts behind the Japanese imperial military’s comfort women system,” the group said in a letter addressed to the prime minister.

The documents, discovered over the past 20 years, include one that suggests wartime brothels were maintained as official military facilities, it said.

Another document showed that, in one case, a chief military police officer used his official budget to cover up the fact that he had recruited comfort women.

The group urged Abe’s government to admit the women were forced to provide sex against their will and that Japan make an apology in a “clear and official way.”