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Former sex slaves and their supporters gave a petition of 550,000 signatures to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Friday demanding compensation from the Japanese government and a formal apology for the hardships the women suffered from during World War II.

Petition organizers said they hoped this year — the 60th anniversary of the end of the war — would be the year to resolve the issues regarding the “comfort women,” who have never been given any compensation or apology.

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