Updated: 02/27/2014 16:43 | By Agence France-Presse

Sex slavery apology review not in Japan's interest: ex-PM

Revising a landmark apology for Japan's wartime system of sex slavery would not be in the country's interests, a former prime minister said Thursday after the government said it would re-examine the matter.


Sex slavery apology review not in Japan's interest: ex-PM

South Korean women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II, attend a protest against Japan in Seoul on August 8, 2012 - by Jung Yeon-Je

Tomiichi Murayama said moves by Shinzo Abe's administration to reopen the issue of so-called "comfort women" would achieve nothing more than offending Koreans.

"It is no mistake that the Japanese military needed comfort women stations and the government was involved in establishing them," said Murayama, who as prime minister issued a general apology in 1995 for Japan's wartime aggression.

"I wonder if finding some faults with the statement serves Japan's national interest," he said, adding that the historic statement of remorse for sex slavery was made after "comprehensive investigation into" evidence.

In 1993, after hearing testimony from 16 Korean women, a statement issued in the name of then-chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono acknowledged official complicity in the coercion of women into sex slavery.

It offered "sincere apologies and remorse" to the women and vowed to face the historical facts squarely.

But repeated wavering on the issue among senior right-wing politicians has contributed to a feeling in South Korea that Japan is in denial and is not sufficiently remorseful.

Last week Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told parliament that the government "would like to consider" setting up a verification team with academics who would look again at the women's accounts.

Respected historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also from China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan, were forced to serve as sex slaves in Japanese army brothels.

However, a minority of right-wing Japanese insist there was no official involvement by the state or the military and say the women were common prostitutes.

Murayama, now 89, visited South Korea this month at the invitation of an opposition party and met three elderly South Korean former comfort women, after which he said he believed "that this issue must be settled expeditiously".

Parlous relations between Seoul and Tokyo, who often differ over interpretations of Japan's 1910-1945 occupation of the Korean peninsula, have been further inflamed in recent months by growing calls in South Korea for a Japanese apology.

A series of statements and gaffes from senior officials around Abe are adding to the impression that Japan does not accept its guilt.

These include an assertion by the head of public broadcaster NHK that sex slavery was commonplace among militaries.

While Abe himself has trodden carefully over the issue since coming to power in December 2012, he triggered uproar during his first stint as prime minister in 2007 when he said there was no evidence Japan directly coerced comfort women.

He later elaborated by saying he was talking of coercion in the "strict" sense, such as kidnapping women.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。