Wed, Mar 07, 2007 - Page 2 News List

MOFA protests over comfort women denial

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

The government lodged a protest with Tokyo yesterday over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's comments about comfort women not having been coerced by the Japanese military during World War II.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) urged the Japanese government to make a sincere formal apology and provide compensation to the women who were forced into sexual slavery.

"Taiwan's government deeply regrets Abe's remarks about comfort women," ministry spokesman David Wang (王建業) said, adding that the issue of the comfort women is "a historical and factual tragedy" and that Japan should face squarely this historical fact.

"The women have suffered gravely, and the [sex slavery] issue caused by Japan's invasion remains unsettled ... The Japanese government should assume responsibility and handle the issue properly," the ministry said.

Last Thursday, Abe said there was no evidence that the Japanese military had forced Asian women to work as sex slaves.

His remarks were seen as a retreat from a 1993 statement in which Japan acknowledged that many women were forced into prostitution, and that the then military government was involved in some of the cases.

Abe's remark has triggered strong protests from South Korea, China and the Philippines.

During World War II, an estimated 200,000 Asian women were forcibly drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army to serve as sex slaves.

Survivors have demanded an apology and compensation from the Japanese government.

Tokyo has refused to apologize but set up a private fund to issue compensation in 1995.

Some former comfort women have refused to accept the compensation from the private fund, saying it is an insult to them.

Fielding questions from legislators yesterday about Abe's remarks, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said: "We are against any government that refuses to tell the truth.

"Regarding what the Japanese government did to Taiwanese people during World War II, our government will stand with its people," he said.

Su said it is natural for the government to support its people and fight for them whenever they are being taken advantage of by foreign governments.

"History is history. Facts are facts," Su said.

"We will and we must support those Taiwanese comfort women because they were victims of war," he said.

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang

also see story:

Filipinas call Abe `a liar' over sex slave denial

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