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Japan's foreign ministry posts controversial remarks on comfort women on website

Japan's foreign ministry was found to have posted a high-ranking official's comments on its English website Saturday that denies forceful mobilization of comfort women by its military and government authorities during World War II.

The posting dated on Aug. 9 was a summary of comments by Shinsuke Sugiyama, Japan's deputy foreign minister, during a United Nations committee meeting held in Geneva back in February. The summarized remarks were first posted on the ministry's official website in March and its translated version was posted on its English site as well.

Sugiyama was quoted as saying that Japan started a fact-finding work in the early 1990s about comfort women, but it could not be confirmed that there was any "forceful taking away of comfort women by the military and government authorities."

He went on saying that the concept of forceful mobilization is based on what he claimed were fabricated facts carried in a book titled "My war crimes" written by Seiji Yoshida, in which the author said that a lot of women on the southern island of Jeju were taken away by the military.

Sugiyama also claimed that even the Asahi Shimbun, which reported the matter, also acknowledged that there were errors when it comes to facts.

The denial of forceful mobilization of women for sexual slavery and the posting of such controversial remarks on the ministry's official website seems to go against what South Korea and Japan agreed upon late last year to resolve the comfort women issue once and for all, observers said.

In December, South Korea and Japan signed a landmark deal to put an end to the long-running rift over sexual slavery of Korean women by Japanese troops during World War II.

Under the deal, Japan expressed an apology for its colonial-era atrocities and agreed to launch a foundation dedicated to healing the scars of the surviving victims and supporting them. Japan has been avoiding calling the money that it promised to contribute to the foundation as "reparation" causing doubt here about sincerity in its apology.

Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese troops during World War II. Forty South Korean victims, mostly in their late 80s, are currently known to be alive. (Yonhap)
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