SEOUL – A South Korean Foreign Ministry official said Sunday that Tokyo acted on its own in acknowledging that the Imperial Japanese military coerced Asian and other women to work in brothels before and during World War II.
The official also suggested that South Korea would retaliate if Japan backpedals on the official statement it issued in 1993 about the women, which Japan euphemistically calls the “ianfu,” or “comfort women.”
The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reviewing the process by which the 1993 government statement was compiled and released by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.
The Abe administration will soon present the Diet with a report contending that Japanese and South Korean officials bargained on the language used in the Kono statement and that Japan bent to South Korean pressure in admitting that the Japanese military was actively involved in the sex slavery.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry official signaled that Seoul will take issue with any Japanese attempt to lay the blame on South Korea and whitewash the Kono statement.
If the Abe government “undercuts” the Kono statement, South Korea will make a rebuttal by presenting its own historical materials, the official said.
The Kono statement “was compiled on the basis of a study conducted independently by Japan and on Japan’s own judgment,” the official said.
In the statement, Kono said the Japanese government had concluded through an official study that the Imperial Japanese Army was involved in the establishment and management of “comfort stations” and forced women, many from the Korean Peninsula, to work in military-run brothels.