TOKYO, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government plans to set up a team to re-examine a 1993 statement offering apologies to wartime sexual slavery, or "comfort women" by a previous government, said top government spokesman on Friday.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during a lower house session that "We'd like to launch a team to re-examine and understand the background," referring to the testimonies by South Korean women who were forced to provide sex to Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.
The testimonies founded the basis of the 1993 statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, who acknowledged the Japanese government and its Imperial Army was involved in the recruitment of between 200,000 and 400,000 girls and women and forced them to serve in brothels.
However, Suga stopped short on whether the current government will issue a new declaration after re-examining the "Kono statement," adding that the government will carefully "consider what to do."
"It will be extremely difficult, but it's important to review and see what the situation was," Suga said of the testimonies, saying the testimonies will be kept secret in the re-examination process.
Japan's former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said Thursday at the Japan National Press Club that "there is no meaning in finding fault in or scrutinizing the statement any further."
Murayama said he urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to stand by the globally-recognized statement as it would serve "no purpose to reexamine it."
The former minister's call came at a time when the government here is mulling 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.
Japan's relations with its neighbors such as South Korea and China are frayed as Japan is trying to whitewash its wartime history, including the "comfort women" issue.