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If evidence ever existed that thousands of women were forced to work as sex slaves for the Japanese military in World War II, it may very well have been consumed in one of the countless bonfires used by Japanese military and civilian authorities to destroy incriminating evidence following Japan’s defeat. Or it may still lie hidden in inaccessible government archives.

Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s dismissive view of the U.S. House of Representatives’ resolution calling on the Japanese government to officially apologize to the women brutalized by the Japanese military, it is an inescapable fact that, in the Internet age, millions of people worldwide are now fully aware of this sordid episode in Japan’s history. Continuing to ignore the voices of women from various countries who say they were “coerced” into sex slavery will simply make this country look increasingly worse in the eyes of the rest of the world.

patrick hattman