Sex slave apol­ogy urged from Ja­panese PM

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Ja­panese aca­demics Mon­day urged Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe to re­new apolo­gies for the coun­try’s im­pe­ri­al­ist past and of­fer to com­pen­sate vic­tims of its wartime brothel sys­tem, in the lat­est in­ter­ven­tion from ed­u­ca­tion­al­ists.

The move comes as the na­tion­al­ist Abe pre­pares a state­ment he is ex­pected to de­liver in Au­gust. It is be­ing closely watched for any sign of back­slid­ing on pre­vi­ous Ja­panese apolo­gies.

Nearly 200 aca­demics in­clud­ing ex­perts on Ja­panese and Korean his­tory signed the state­ment im­plor­ing Abe to re­peat pre­vi­ous ex­plicit prime min­is­te­rial apolo­gies for Ja­panese vi­o­lence.

The state­ment, also signed by dozens of jour­nal­ists, lawyers and rights ac­tivists, said Abe’s ex­pected an­nounce­ment “must reaf­firm that in­va­sion and colo­nial con­trol caused harm and pain to neigh­bor coun­tries ... and it must ex­press re­newed sen­ti­ments of re­gret and apol­ogy.”

Sig­na­to­ries say Tokyo must face up to its re­spon­si­bil­ity for the sex­ual en­slave­ment of thou­sands of women, an is­sue at the heart of the bit­ter en­mity be­tween Ja­pan and South Korea, from where most of the women came.

“We em­pha­size res­o­lu­tion of the com­fort women is­sue this time, as the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ja­pan and South Korea has been strained,” said one of the or­ga­niz­ers Haruki Wada, his­to­rian and pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of Tokyo Uni­ver­sity, us­ing Ja­pan’s pre­ferred eu­phemism.

“We hope Prime Min­is­ter Abe will re­flect our voices in his state­ment,” Wada told AFP.

Abe’s pre­de­ces­sors of­fered ex­plicit apolo­gies for colo­nial rule and ag­gres­sion on the 50th and 60th an­niver­saries of the war’s end, but he has hinted he is un­likely to re­peat that — say­ing in­stead he wants to is­sue a “for­ward-look­ing” state­ment.

That sen­ti­ment has caused dis­quiet among Ja­panese lib­er­als and anger in Bei­jing and Seoul, which in­sist Tokyo has not made amends.

Ja­pan of­fered an apol­ogy to for­mer sex slaves in 1993 — the words of which re­main gov­ern­ment pol­icy — but cam­paign­ers ac­cuse Abe of play­ing down any of­fi­cial role by the coun­try or its mil­i­tary.

“A re­newed ef­fort is called for from the gov­ern­ment of Ja­pan” in tak­ing steps “to­wards the 50 or so sur­viv­ing vic­tims,” the let­ter said.

The lat­est open let­ter comes af­ter a sim­i­lar one last month signed by sev­eral hun­dred aca­demics. Weeks later, 16 Ja­panese aca­demic so­ci­eties — in­clud­ing the His­tor­i­cal Science So­ci­ety of Ja­pan — is­sued a state­ment echo­ing the let­ter.

Main­stream his­to­ri­ans say around 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also from other Asian na­tions, were sys­tem­at­i­cally raped by Ja­pan’s im­pe­rial forces in mil­i­tary broth­els.

Ja­panese con­ser­va­tives, how­ever, say no of­fi­cial doc­u­ments prove gov­ern­ment in­volve­ment in the sys­tem. They say the women were com­mon pros­ti­tutes en­gaged in a com­mer­cial ex­change.

They have also ar­gued that mem­o­ries of the sur­vivors can­not be trusted and are highly politi­cized in an is­sue that serves as one of the main geopo­lit­i­cal fault lines run­ning through East Asia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.