Resorting to its wrong-headed historical revisionism once again, the Japanese government went ahead with the announcement last Friday of a report on a 1993 statement that acknowledged and apologized for its forced sexual enslavement of women by the Japanese military during World War II.
Japanese officials said the review of the so-called Kono statement found that the Tokyo government fine-tuned some key wording of the statement, which admitted that the imperial army forced Korean women into sex slavery, with the Seoul government.
By saying that there had been some discussions on what language to use in the statement, the Japanese government is attempting to make the statement appear to have been outcome of a “political compromise” between the two countries.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his rightist followers must have thought that through such a tactic, they could dilute the credibility of the Kono statement, without the risks associated with officially disavowing it. This cowardly, two-faced approach is contemptible.
As a matter of fact, even when the review was going on, Abe and other Japanese officials kept saying that it would uphold the Kono statement and that it did not intend to revise the statement. Then why did they need to review it in the first place?
By now, the world knows about the Japanese imperial army’s forced recruitment of military sex slaves and condemns it as a crime against humanity. What the Japanese government should do is face up to history and commit itself to the statement, rather than try to tamper with something which was issued in the name of its cabinet minister 21 years ago.
The fact that even Japanese media were critical of the move proves that the Abe administration has taken another misstep. As the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said in its editorial, Japan should think about future cooperation between South Korea and Japan, not take issue with something like the background of the Kono statement