A former Japanese lawmaker said Saturday that the National Diet has repeatedly rejected a bill on Korean women forced into sexual slavery during World War II, but legislative efforts are still under way.
Haruko Yoshikawa, a former lawmaker of Japan's Communist Party, said she and three other female opposition lawmakers have drafted a support bill for the so-called "comfort women" since 2001 after meeting surviving victims, politicians and officials in Asian nations including Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan.
The 2001 bill calls for the Tokyo government to apologize and provide reparations for the former sex slaves.
"Though submitted eight times, the bill was dismissed each time," Yoshikawa said in a conference held in Seoul. "After the Liberal Democratic Party took power, it was hard to even submit the bill."
Saturday's conference was hosted by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, a civic group that has waged weekly street protests in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul since 1992 to call for compensation and apology from Tokyo.
Despite the botched attempts, the former Diet member said she would continue to work to persuade the Japanese government and raise awareness on the issue among the younger generation.
Tokyo acknowledges mobilizing the comfort women, mostly from Korea but also from Taiwan, the Philippines and China, but insists that private agencies carried out the actions, not the government.
Historians say more than 200,000 women fell victim to the Imperial Japanese Army, which forced or coaxed young girls to work in front-line brothels. (Yonhap News)