TOKYO, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Japan said Monday it will adhere to its official 1993 apology for the forcible conscription of women into sexual slavery by its military during the Second World War.
Japan's top government spokesman told a news conference that the government has no intention of retracting or revising the landmark apology.
"Replacing the Kono Statement won't happen and there is no way we will revise. I have never heard the prime minister say otherwise and he has said that clearly in parliament," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Suga's remarks followed Japan being blasted by South Korea ahead of a trilateralmeeting Tuesday between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye on the sidelines of a conference on nuclear security being held in the Hague Monday and Tuesday.
The trilateral meeting, also scheduled to involve U.S. President Barack Obama, will mark the first time Abe and Park have held formal talks since they both assumed office amid increasingly frosty ties between Japan and its closest neighbors, including China and South Korea, owing to Japan's right-shifting political maneuvers and revisionist views of its militaristic history.
Suga's remarks were prompted by comments made by a senior aide to Abe, Koichi Hagiuda, on Sunday stating that it "would not be strange to issue a new political statement on the "comfort women" if new findings emerge."
Suga dismissed Hagiuda's comments as being his "personal view" following harsh condemnation from South Korea, and said that regardless of whether the government reviews the testimonies given to the Japanese government by 16 Korean women who testified to Japan's complicity, coercion and culpability for wartime sexual slavery, Japan's apology, known as the Kono Statement, would be upheld.
Despite Suga's assurances, observers here are concerned that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is flip-flopping over the issue and being equivocal in its actual intentions.
Suga previously stated 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 Kono Statement.
He stated that the evidence given by comfort women, who were forced to work in military brothels and forms the basis of the 1993 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.
Abe himself had also previously intimated that his government was looking to reexamine the authenticity of the Kono statement with an aim to possibly revising it, and, issuing a fresh statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II next year to replace the Murayama statement, although he said later in parliament the Kono statement would not be retracted.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama issued an historic apology in 1995 for the nation's wartime atrocities, which has become a benchmark for all administrations thereafter and the Kono statement, which was issued according to the Japanese government's own studies, 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."
Nationalist factions and conservative politicians here have tried to refute both historical and other incontrovertible evidence and testimony given to the Japanese government on the statements, including testimony given by the 16 Korean women.
As such and ahead of Abe releasing his own statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, political pundits are warning any wavering on Japan's official line could gravely upset its neighboring countries as geopolitical tensions continue to rise and diplomatic ties remain largely severed.
Japan promises to follow "Kono Statement" on wartime sex slavery
TOKYO, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Japan on Monday reiterated Monday that it will uphold its apology for wartime sex slavery after an aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a new statement on the issue. Full story