Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida argued Monday that “comfort women” should not be described as “sex slaves,” challenging widespread use of the term by Western media outlets.

“The term ‘sex slaves’ doesn’t match the facts, and (the Japanese government) believes it should not be used,” Kishida said during a session of the Upper House Budget Committee when asked about the matter by Takashi Uto, a fellow member of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Kishida also said the South Korean government has confirmed that the formal term used by Seoul is “victims of the comfort women issue of the Japanese military,” not “sex slaves.”

The term “comfort woman” is a euphemism for females who were forced into Japanese military brothels in the 1930s and ’40s.

On Dec. 28, Seoul and Tokyo reached a landmark agreement to settle a long-standing diplomatic row over issues involving these women. The deal includes setting up a ¥1 billion fund for the women.

When reporting on the agreement, many major Western media outlets, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Guardian and CNN, used the term “sex slaves.”

It is the policy of The Japan Times that “sex slaves” is acceptable for referring to the women who were forced to provide sex for Japanese troops before and during World War II.

The Japanese government admitted “the honor and dignity of many women” was damaged with “the involvement” of the military authorities, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his “most sincere apologies and remorse” for the suffering of comfort women.

But Japan has not recognized its legal responsibilities because private-sector businesses, not wartime Japanese authorities, are believed to have been the main entities that recruited the women on the Korean Peninsula.

Japan has also maintained that all compensation issues involving Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule were “settled completely and finally” in a bilateral pact attached to the 1965 Japan-South Korea basic treaty.

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