Retain sex slave apology: U.S.

Kyodo, AP

A U.S. government spokeswoman has expressed hope that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government will stick to Japan’s 1993 apology on the issue of women who were forced to work at Imperial military brothels before and during the war.

Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, took the position when asked to comment Friday on the Abe government’s disclosure that Japan and South Korea worked closely on wording the statement of the apology concerning what Japan euphemistically calls the “comfort women” issue.

“We concluded that the content of the study was valid,” said lawyer Keiichi Tadaki, who headed the five-member panel that reviewed about 250 sets of documents used for the Japanese government study that served as the basis for the 1993 apology, which acknowledged for first time that many women were forced into prostitution for Japan’s wartime military.

The panel’s investigation focused on how the study was conducted, not the evaluation of its historical findings.

Tadaki, who briefed the contents of the report, said Japan had enough evidence from other documents to produce the apology and that the hearings with the former comfort women included in the report were supplementary and intended to show Japan’s compassion, rather than to verify historical evidence.

The panel’s report acknowledged Tokyo and Seoul negotiated at length over the wording but that did not distort historical facts mentioned in the apology, Tadaki said.

In Washington, Psaki told reporters that the Japanese statement issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono “marked an important chapter in improving relations with neighbors.”