BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- China on Friday urged Japan to act responsibly, after a senior Japanese official announced plans to reexamine a landmark statement offering apologies for Japan's wartime sexual slavery.
"We hope Japan can take a responsible attitude and properly handle the issue, so as to comfort the living and help the dead rest in peace," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang at a regular press briefing.
He noted the dwindling numbers of living "comfort women," a euphemism for those forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during a lower house session on Friday that the government plans to set up a team to reexamine an official statement made by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993.
Kono acknowledged the crime of Japanese military forcing women from countries across Asia to serve in brothels and apologized for the practice.
Qin said the sexual slavery was a grave crime against humanity by the Japanese against victimized people and countries. It brought the victims severe mental and physical traumas that are difficult to heal.
Although estimates vary, leading historians maintain that Japan's Imperial Army forced between around 200,000 and 400,000 girls and women into sexual service in the countries it occupied during WWII, including China, Korea, the Philippines, and a number of other countries in Southeast Asia.