TOKYO, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said Thursday that his landmark 1995 apology for the nation's wartime atrocities and the 1993 Kono statement admitting culpability and apologizing for Japan's forcible wartime conscription of sex slaves should not be re-examined.
"Nobody can deny the Murayama statement. It has become an international pledge and Japan's national policy," the former prime minister said at the Japan National Press Club.
"It's impossible to deny it, and for that reason I trust Prime Minister Abe would observe it," Murayama, who served as Japan's prime minister from 1994 to 1996, urged.
The Murayama statement has been adopted by all prime ministers since the official apology was issued, but current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has questioned some of the terminology in the apology, much to the consternation of the international community.
Abe maintains that his Cabinet will support the statement, but maintains that the apology is not supported by his cabinet in its entirety.
Murayama, who originally issued the landmark statement of apology to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, also implored the government Thursday to not reexamine a separate statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993 admitting that Japan's Imperial Army forced between 200,000 and 400,000 girls and women into sexual slavery in the countries it occupied during the war.
"There is no meaning in finding fault in or scrutinizing the statement any further," said Murayama, adding that he urged Abe to also stand by this statement as it would serve "no purpose to reexamine it."
Murayama's wishes for Abe's current administration to stand by the globally-recognized statements come at a time when the government here is mulling the idea of revising its historic apology for its forcible conscription of wartime sex slaves, in a move likely to draw the ire of neighboring countries who suffered under Japan's brutal imperial regime during WWII.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday that evidence given by comfort women -- a euphemism used to describe sex slaves who served Japanese soldiers in wartime -- will be reexamined along with the 1993 Kono Statement.
The top government spokesperson said that the evidence given by comfort women, who were forced to work in military brothels and forms the basis of the 1993 Kono Statement, is to be re-examined as the official statements of the comfort women were taken on the premise that their evidence would be heard behind closed doors.
Suga said the government will consider whether there can be any revisions made while trying to respect the confidence in which the original statements were given. A number of conservative lawmakers are also seeking to discredit the official apology by saying there is a lack of wartime evidence to support the statement.
But leading historians agree that the historical facts are incontrovertible, despite recent remarks by nationalist politicians here, and the evidence and testimony given to the Japanese government by 16 Korean women who testified to Japan's complicity, coercion and culpability for wartime sexual slavery, were sound.
The 1993 Kono Statement was issued according to the Japanese government's own studies, which concluded that women were recruited to work in brothels against their will through "coaxing and coercion" and they were forced to "live in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere."
The statement adds that the "undeniable" act of the military authorities of the day "severely injured the honor and dignity of many women" and goes on to apologize for all those "who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women."
Murayama was unequivocal Thursday in urging the current administration to respect and adhere to both statements, as they serve as Japan's official and internationally recognized benchmarks for both confessions and apologies.
"It would be impossible to negate the statements because the country's prime ministers have all upheld them and they have become an international pledge," Murayama said.
Regarding Japan compensating wartime sex slaves, Murayama said that increased dialogue was needed, especially between Japan and South Korea, as the current administration believes the issue was settled by a 1965 bilateral agreement.
But according to local media reports Thursday, only 30 percent of former South Korean sex slaves have received compensation from the disbanded state-backed Asian Women's Fund since its creation in 1995.
Japan looking to reexamine the authenticity of the Kono statement with an aim to possibly revising it and Abe's plans to issue a fresh statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II next year, to replace the Murayama statement, will almost certainly ensure that its once fruitful ties with its closest Asian neighbors may become irrevocably severed, observers said of the issue.