Concerns are rising that Japan may revise the 1993 Kono Statement, its symbolic apology for wartime sex slavery, with top officials showing signs of leaning toward the claims of the extreme right.
The statement, issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono and based on the testimonies of 16 victims, acknowledges involvement of Japanese authorities in forcing women into sex slavery and offers “sincere apologies and remorse.” Right-wing politicians and organizations, however, have since denied official involvement, comparing the victims to prostitutes.
“The testimonies of comfort women were taken on the premise of being closed-door sessions. The government will consider whether there can be a revision while preserving the confidence in which they were given,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday. “Comfort women” refers to those forced into sex slavery.
Suga also commented last week that the Japanese government “would like to consider” setting up a verification team to review the testimonies.
As the Japanese government has been laying the groundwork for backtracking on the issue, Japan’s right-wing media has also been increasing the pressure.
On Monday, Sankei Shimbun carried an article citing survey results backing up the calls to review the Kono Statement.
The survey, conducted in collaboration with Fuji News Network, showed that 58.6 percent of the respondents thought that the Kono Statement should be reviewed. In addition, 66.3 percent of the respondents agreed with the need for a parliamentary verification of the victims’ testimonies.
The validity of the survey, however, has been brought into question, with allegations that its wording was unclear.
In addition, the survey is reported to have included information used by those denying Japan’s wartime atrocities to back up claims that the victims were forced into sex slavery.
As right-wing claims take root in Japan, Koreans and Chinese in Australia are to cooperate in bringing about the adoption of a related bill in the Australian parliament.
The bill the Australia-based Korean and Chinese nationals are pushing for calls for the Japanese government to apologize for its past, admit its part in forcing women into sex slavery and compensate the victims.
“The views of the Korean and Chinese societies were conveyed to members of the ruling Liberal Party, and the lawmakers expressed agreement,” a Sydney Korean society official was quoted as saying by a local news agency.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)