TOKYO, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe renewed his support for a 1993 apology for wartime sex slavery during
a phone conversation with U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday night,
Japan's foreign ministry said.
Abe restated his position that he stands by the
statement made by the then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, who officially
acknowledged and apologized over the fact that Japan forced women from other
Asian countries to be sex slaves for its soldiers during World War II, the
ministry said in a statement.
Abe also said that he felt sympathy about the pains
and suffering of the euphemistically called "comfort women" and felt sorry for
their distressful experience.
The two leaders also discussed about the abduction
issue, and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force's mission in Iraq, the release said.
Last month, Abe said that there was "no evidence" to
directly establish that Japan's military authorities or government officials
were involved in the forced sex slavery during World War II. This immediately
drew international criticism and concern.
The premier later said he apologized to the "comfort
women" in a parliament inquiry and renewed his vow to stick to a 1993 statement.
An estimated 200,000 women were forced to serve as
sex slaves for Japanese forces during World War II. Most came from countries
occupied by Japan at the time.