Respect has a price tagFacing fierce criticism from the international community for denying the historical fact that Japan coerced women into sexual slavery during World War II, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe again refused to acknowledge state responsibility in recruiting the so-called “comfort women,” yet he apologized to them, saying, “I am apologizing here and now as the prime minister.”
He also said, “As I frequently say, I express my sympathy for the hardships they suffered and offer my apology for the situation they found themselves in.” He backpeddled from his earlier remarks that there was no coercion in employing the comfort women, as Japan calls them, after drawing heavy flak from the international community.
It is regretful that it’s hard to believe in the sincerity of his apology. As one can see from the expressions he used, such as “for the situation they found themselves in,” he was playing with words, and there was no fundamental change in the attitude of the Japanese government, which is trying to avoid state responsibility for what happened.
In addition, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hakubun Shimomura also made the outrageous remarks that parents sold their daughters. If Mr. Abe and Mr. Shimomura were sincere, they would never have made those remarks.
The Abe administration is speaking out of both sides of its mouth ― it apologizes, but at the same time, it deepens the victims’ wounds.
Regarding the issue, the United States States Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said, “We certainly would want to see the Japanese continue to address this and to deal with it in a forthright and responsible manner that acknowledges the gravity of the crimes that were committed.”
Japan must realize the significance of the U.S. State Department joining the ranks of those criticizing both the past and present treatment of comfort women.
It’s a warning that Japan cannot become a responsible member of the international community with such an unscrupulous attitude. We hope that Japan becomes an international leader in proportion to its economic might. When it reflects on its past and takes responsibility, Japan will become a country that is truly respected.