The recent denials made by some of Japan’s leading political figures that the Japanese military had forced women into sex slavery during World War II were “deplorable,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement yesterday.
The ministry said that it deplored the comments for dismissing the fact that women in some of Japan’s neighboring countries were either duped or forced into becoming “comfort women” during the war.
The statement was made in response to comments by Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto. The ministry said the Japanese officials have disregarded the facts.
Their comments were at odds with those made by then-Japanese Cabinet secretary Kono Yohei, who apologized for the “comfort women” in 1993, the ministry said.
That year, Yohei acknowledged that “comfort stations” had existed and that Japanese military and government officials directly or indirectly engaged in the establishment and management of the stations and in the recruitment of sex slaves.
Yohei’s apology came after Tokyo conducted a one-and-a-half-year-long investigation into the issue that revealed in many cases, women had been recruited to serve as “comfort women” against their will through coaxing and coercion, as well as that, at times, government and military personnel directly took part in the transfer of such women.
According to a report published earlier this week by the South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo, Hashimoto said on Tuesday that “there is no evidence that ‘comfort women’ were assaulted and threatened by the [Japanese] military and taken captive.”
Hashimoto made the remarks when he answered questions from the Japanese press about South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s demand that the Japanese emperor apologize for his country’s wartime atrocities if he wished to visit South Korea.
On Friday, Ishihara reportedly said at a press conference that wartime “comfort women” volunteered for the job motivated by profits and were not coerced to do so.
The ministry’s statement said that the comments made by Ishihara not only sullied the character of the victims who are already mentally and physically ravaged, but also made them to suffer another aggravated assault.
“[We] called on Japanese politicians to face up to the issue of ‘comfort women.’ They should respect the women who have suffered and listen to their appeals. The Japanese government should restore their reputations and give them justice,” it said.
Taipei has repeatedly called for the Japanese government to apologize to the victims with sincerity and provide them compensation and will continue to do so to seek justice on behalf of Taiwanese victims, the statement added.