The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday passed by voice vote a resolution urging Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young (Asian) women into sexual slavery.”
Passage follows approval by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on June 26. The nonbinding resolution says in part that “the United States-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of U.S. security interests in Asia and the Pacific and is fundamental to regional stability and prosperity.” But the fact that the full House approved the resolution carries great weight and is a political blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Similar resolutions on the issue of the Japanese military’s use of “comfort women” were submitted four times from 2001 to 2006. This is the first time that the full House has passed such a resolution.
In his April visit to the U.S., Mr. Abe said he sympathizes from the bottom of his heart with former comfort women who went through extreme hardships, and President George W. Bush accepted his apology. Mr. Abe should seriously consider that the full House approved the resolution despite Mr. Bush’s acceptance of his apology. He should realize that his own attempt in early March to dilute Japan’s responsibility for instituting sexual servitude prompted the resolution. At that time, he said testimonies had not proven the existence of coercion in a “narrow sense” — in which “government authorities” intruded into homes and took women away by force.
The resolution in part says that the U.S.-Japan alliance is based on shared vital values such as the preservation and promotion of political and economic freedoms, support for human rights and democratic institutions. But the approval of the resolution shows that many U.S. lawmakers distrust Mr. Abe’s attitude toward Japan’s human rights violations of the past. Mr. Abe should realize that the problem of perception of history exists not only with Japan’s neighbors in Asia but also with the U.S. and could undermine Japan-U.S. ties.
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