WASHINGTON, March 22 (Xinhua) -- A coalition of over 100 groups on Thursday called on members of the U.S. Congress to support, co-sponsor and pass a resolution on "comfort women," which urges Japan to make an official and unequivocal apology and take responsibility for the Japanese forces' role in enslaving hundreds of thousands of girls and women of Asia during World War II.
The coalition, led by Korean American groups and consisting of mainly Asian American organizations, said in a statement that House Resolution 121, "is a matter of human rights, women's rights, truth and reconciliation."
The resolution, introduced in late January by Representative Mike Honda, a Democrat from California, calls upon the Japanese government to make an official and unequivocal apology, taking responsibility for the Japanese army's role in enslaving thousands of girls and women of Asia, including those of European descent, as "comfort women" during World War II.
So far over 50 House members have co-sponsored the resolution, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold hearings on the issue next week, said Dr. Ok Cha Soh, president of the Washington Coalition of Comfort Women Issue.
During World War II, about 200,000 girls and women of Asia were enslaved by the Japanese army and were exploited as "comfort women." They were systematically raped and tortured by Japanese soldiers at the so-called "comfort stations," which were established and maintained by the Japanese government, according to the statement.
The coalition called upon Japanese citizens to learn the truth about their history and not allow their government to deny "the shameful aspects of its past."
"To many around the world, denying the truth about the Japanese government's role in organizing 'comfort stations' is profoundly painful, representing both a disregard for their suffering and a repression of historical memory of an event that should take its place alongside the great atrocities of the 20th century," the coalition said.
Despite testimonies of survivors and historic documentation, the statement said, Japan has made only vague apologies and has never taken full responsibility for this crime. "Right now, Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe and the Japanese government are engaged in a campaign to deny any responsibility and to claim there is no evidence of rape."
The coalition called on Abe and the Japanese government to stop the campaign to deny the truth about the Japanese government's role in organizing "comfort stations."
"Lasting stability in East Asia cannot be achieved until Japan openly confronts the abuses of its militarist past," it said.
The U.S. House International Relations Committee adopted a resolution in September last year calling on the Japanese government to formally acknowledge and accept responsibility on the issue of "comfort women," but the legislation was not able to reach the House floor for further action during the Republican-controlled 119th Congress.