Lawmakers from South Korea, the United States and three other countries launched an anti-sexual slavery coalition Monday, calling on Japan to resolve the issue of its wartime sexual slavery so as to set an example for addressing similar problems around the world.
The International Parliamentary Coalition for Victims of Sexual Slavery was officially launched at a news conference at U.N. headquarters. Co-chairs of the group are Lee Jasmine from South Korea; Mike Honda from the U.S.; Yonah Martin from Canada; Melissa Lee from New Zealand; Fiona Claire Bruce from Britain, and former Canadian lawmaker Joy Smith.
"IPCVSS shares the views that restoration of honor and dignity of victims is mandatory. Countries and non-state actors shall be encouraged to officially apologize for historical and/or current sexual violence perpetrated by its armed forces," the lawmakers said in a prepared statement read during the news conference.
The coalition's "first action will be to seek to unearth facts and call on responsible governments to officially apologize for the acts of abducting by force or mobilizing and deceiving girls and women from the Asia Pacific region as sexual slaves, the so-called comfort women, for its own military during World War II," they said.
"The resolution of the Japanese military's comfort women issue will serve as a model for addressing the issue of girls and women's wartime human rights for future generations," the lawmakers said.
The coalition plans to hold an international conference on the issue next year.
Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, which was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II. But Japan has long attempted to water down and deny responsibility for the atrocity.
The sexual slavery issue has been the biggest thorn in frayed relations between Japan and South Korea, with Seoul demanding Tokyo take steps to address the grievances of elderly Korean victims and Japan refusing to do so.
Early this month, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held the first summit talks between the two countries in more than three years and agreed to accelerate negotiations to resolve the issue. (Yonhap)