South Korea summons envoy over Kono probe

Kyodo

South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae Yong on Monday summoned Japan’s ambassador to protest a report released Friday into how Japan drafted the 1993 apology over the “comfort women” known as the Kono statement.

“The coercion of ‘comfort women’ is a historical fact that the international community recognizes,” Cho told Ambassador Koro Bessho, Yonhap News Agency reported. He referred to the victims using Japan’s euphemistic term for the women, who were forced into Japan’s wartime military brothels.

“The more the (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe government attempts to undermine the Kono statement, the more its credibility and international reputation will be damaged,” Cho added.

The move came after Seoul on Friday voiced “deep regret” over Japan’s review of how the Kono statement was drafted, saying it could undermine the credibility of Japan’s apology.

Earlier Friday the government presented the Diet with the outcome of a panel’s review of how the statement was crafted, including whether the Japanese government coordinated the wording with the South Korean government.

Seoul called the review “contradictory” and “pointless and unnecessary” because Abe’s team had said it inherited the spirit of the Kono statement from preceding governments, only to launch a probe into how it was crafted.

The Kono statement, issued in August 1993 by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, acknowledged the military’s involvement in recruitment of the comfort women and the use of coercion, while offering Japan’s “sincere apologies.”

In its reaction, South Korea also voiced disappointment that the results of the review “include contents glossing over the facts and impairing the credibility of the Kono statement.”