Abe ignored evidence of army coercion of sex slaves

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Abe ignored evidence of army coercion of sex slaves

TOKYO - Japanese government documents indicate that the Shinzo Abe government may have deliberately ignored evidence that the Japanese military recruited and systematically used sex slaves, or so-called comfort women, during colonial times and World War II.

Seiken Akamine, a lawmaker of the Japanese Communist Party, made a parliamentary inquiry to the Abe administration June 10 as to whether a certain set of documents relating to a trial involving Dutch victims of Japanese sexual slavery in Indonesia had been taken into account by the Japanese government in the so-called Kono Statement of 1993.

The documents from military court proceedings in 1948 detailed that the Japanese military forcibly transferred women to so-called comfort stations in Batavia, now Jakarta, “for the purpose of prostitution,” and the women were forced to provide sexual services to army officers.

Japan occupied the then-Dutch East Indies from 1942 until the end of World War II in 1945.

The Japanese Communist Party said on Sunday that the Japanese government in response to Akamine’s inquiry conceded that the Batavia military court proceedings are in its possession and were taken into account in the Kono Statement apologizing for the comfort women issue, contradicting a previous Abe position.

In his first term as prime minister between 2006-7, Abe made a statement in March 2007 that there was no evidence discovered by the Japanese government that showed that women were coerced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military.

This was a challenge to the 1993 apology issued by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono that followed a Japanese government study gathering testimony and other evidence. Kono conceded that the “Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women.” The government study, the statement said, “has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will.”

Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto raised the ire of Japan’s war victims last month by calling comfort women “necessary” during wartime and claiming there was no proof they had been forcibly recruited by the Japanese military.

In its response to Akamine’s inquiry to the Diet, the Abe government said the Batavia proceedings were reflected in the government study at the time of the Kono Statement in 1993 and were included in “government documents” mentioned in Abe’s 2007 response.

BY SEO SEUNG-WOOK, SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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