Korean victims of the Japanese military's sexual enslavement during World War II could be asked to repeat their testimonies, a Japanese news report quoted a ranking Japanese lawmaker as saying Saturday, a remark that could be seen as another sign of Tokyo's unrepentant attitude over its wartime atrocities.
Shigeru Ishiba, the secretary general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, made the remark in a meeting with reporters following revelations that the Japanese government will set up a team of investigators to reexamine a previous government apology made to the former sex slaves, euphemistically called "comfort women," according to Kyodo News Agency.
"(The reexamination) is aimed at improving veracity by hearing the stories (of the victims) while they are still healthy," Kyodo quoted Ishiba as saying.
The apology, issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993, acknowledged that the Imperial Japanese Army was involved to some extent in the recruitment of women, mostly from South Korea, to serve in front-line brothels, or "comfort stations."
The statement was based partly on the testimonies of 16 South Korean victims.
Ishiba also rejected South Korean President Park Geun-hye's criticism of the reexamination plan, saying that the Japanese government would study the process by which the statement was drawn up, not its contents.
"There are various discussions about what (the then Japanese government) heard and verified through those concerned, so we plan to study the truth," he said.
Historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual slavery for Japanese World War II soldiers. Of the 237 Korean women who have come forward as former sex slaves, only 55 are still alive.
South Korea has urged Japan to resolve the grievances of the victims by offering compensation and a sincere apology, but Tokyo has snubbed the demand, claiming all issues regarding its colonial rule were settled in a 1965 package compensation deal under which the two countries normalized their relations. (Yonhap)