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U.S. lawmaker seeks Japan apology

Aug 14,2009
U.S. lawmaker seeks Japan apology
Tokyo has yet to make a “formal and unequivocal” government apology for its sexual enslavement and other past crimes during World War II, according to a United States congressman of Japanese heritage, who underscored the importance of historical education to ensure future generations do not repeat past mistakes.

“I think what has been asked for (in the past) was a formal, unequivocal government apology; to recognize historical responsibility and then also to talk about compensation to victims,” U.S. Rep. Mike Honda (D-California) said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency. “I don’t believe that has happened.

Honda, the current chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, is visiting South Korea to receive an honorary doctorate from Kangwon National University in Chuncheon, 85 kilometers east of Seoul.

The 68-year old congressman was responsible for submitting a House resolution urging Japan to apologize for the sexual enslavement of women. The House unanimously passed the resolution in August 2007.

In late 2007, the European Parliament, representing some 490 million people in the 27-member European Union, also overwhelmingly approved a non-binding resolution on the sex slaves for imperial Japan.

Estimates vary, but historians say more than 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were sexually enslaved by Japan.

Japanese officials have expressed “regrets” to the victims, but often denied the Japanese government’s involvement, inviting outrage from South and North Korea.

“I know that individuals have apologized or recognized that there were some unfortunate things that have happened,” Honda said. But he underscored that many such remarks were made “without addressing the true depth” of what happened.

The lawmaker explained that Japanese-Americans have filed a complaint to their homeland, demanding an unequivocal apology.

As a former teacher and high school principle, Honda said he discovered that the Japanese education system in general tended not to deal with teaching Japan’s history of the military regime in Asia.

“To me that was, as a teacher, not right,” Honda said, arguing that some educational groups in Japan have even tried to whitewash or eliminate the whole subject matter as if the events never occurred.

Yonhap


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