Tokyo will neither revise a landmark 1993 apology to the “comfort women” forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels, nor issue a new statement on the matter, the country’s top government spokesman said yesterday, a day after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said nations must face the facts of history while on a visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
“[The government] will examine the statement, but we will not revise it,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
He also denied the possibility of a new government statement on the issue, as suggested by close Abe aide Koichi Hagiuda over the weekend.
The Kyodo news agency and other media reported over the weekend that Hagiuda suggested Japan issue a new statement on comfort women if a review of the procedures that led to the government’s apology uncovered new facts.
Earlier this month, Abe said his government would not revise the apology issued by then-Japanese chief Cabinet secretary Yohei Kono, which recognized the involvement of Japanese authorities in forcing the women to work in the brothels — a point many conservative Japanese dispute.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye expressed relief over Abe’s remarks at the time and the two leaders are set to join US President Barack Obama in a three-way summit on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, which started yesterday.
Washington has been pressing allies Tokyo and Seoul to improve ties strained in December last year when Abe angered China and South Korea by visiting Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which they see as a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression as it honors convicted war criminals among other war dead.
China’s ambassador to Germany this year compared Abe’s Yasukuni visit to a German chancellor laying flowers on Adolf Hitler’s bunker.
Asked if there is a difference between Abe visiting the memorial to Japanese soldiers at home and a memorial to war victims abroad, a Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman on Sunday said: “There is no contradiction.”
He said Yasukuni enshrines 2.46 million people who died for their country during conflicts since 1853, including both world wars, and that at the time of the December visit, Abe had issued a pledge that Japan must never wage war again.
With his visit to the Anne Frank House, Abe seems to have scored a point in a subtle war of words between China and Japan over their unresolved World War II issues and Beijing’s attempts to put these on a European stage.
“We would like to face the historical facts in a humble manner and to pass on the lessons of history to the next generation,” Abe said at the museum, where he took no questions and left after a brief tour of the hidden annex where Frank and her family hid from the Nazis from 1942 to 1944.
Sources told reporters last month that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) wanted to make WWII a key part of a trip to Germany this month, but had been refused a visit to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.
Xi is also on a state visit in the Netherlands, where he and his wife visited a tulip show on Sunday.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable