WASHINGTON – Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. reiterated Wednesday that the passage of a resolution in the U.S. Congress to seek a clear apology from Tokyo over the Japanese military’s use of sex slaves during the war would harm bilateral relations.
Ryozo Kato made the statement ahead of the resolution’s anticipated passage through a House of Representatives panel next week.
“It is harmful for Japan-U.S. relations if a factually unfounded resolution is passed,” he told a news conference, citing the nonbinding resolution authored by Rep. Michael Honda, D-Calif.
“The Japanese government’s position on this is as stated by Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe, when he came to the United States (in April),” Kato said. “That is, we have offered and will offer heartfelt apologies for the hardships incurred by former ‘comfort women.’ “
The Japanese envoy was referring to the sex slaves, known in Japan euphemistically as “comfort women,” who were primarily from the Korean Peninsula, which was under Japanese colonial rule during the war.
Honda, of Japanese descent, and some Republicans submitted the resolution in January urging the prime minister to offer an official apology to the victims.
The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to put the resolution to a vote next Tuesday. With support from 140 legislators — both Republicans and Democrats — the resolution is expected to pass.
Attention is now focused on whether the resolution will be put to a vote on the full House floor. Honda said Tuesday the resolution is likely to be put to a vote at the full House, possibly in mid-July.
Abe came under fire earlier this year when he said he believes the Japanese military did not utilize “coercion,” in a narrow sense, in connection with the women.
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