U.S. reps put pressure on Japan’s Abe on history

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U.S. reps put pressure on Japan’s Abe on history

In advance of a visit to Washington by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. lawmakers are pushing Japan to set straight its approach to wartime history, which has frozen relations with neighboring Asian countries.

Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, told a group of Korean lawmakers that he is committed to “getting the historical record correct” on the issue of Japanese military’s coercion of women into sexual slavery during World War II.

Rep. Royce of California, a 12-term congressman, met with a group of bipartisan Korean lawmakers visiting Washington Wednesday and said that he has been a proponent of the cause of the victims of sexual slavery, euphemistically called comfort women, and also for the issue of Korea’s sovereignty over the Dokdo islets, and will continue to support these causes.

Japan also lays claims to Dokdo, which it calls Takeshima.

“Having visited the ‘comfort women’ memorial in Glendale, California, I assured the delegation that I am committed to getting the historical record correct,” said Royce in a statement. He added that he discussed with the Korean lawmakers the upcoming 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in August.

According to the Korean lawmakers, Royce said that be believes in regards to Korea-Japan relations that Tokyo needs to take responsibility for what happened during World War II and that Japan needs to issue “a sincere apology.”

Royce was a co-sponsor of the unprecedented House Resolution 121, passed in 2007 by the U.S. House of Representatives, which called for an official apology from the Japanese government for its sexual enslavement of women.

Abe, who is expected to make a visit to the United States at the end of April, has been pushing to become the first Japanese prime minister to speak to a joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate.

Other congressmen such as Rep. Mike Honda of California have raised concerns over Abe addressing Congress before properly apologizing for Japan’s wartime atrocities. Honda told reporters Wednesday that he hopes Abe “acknowledges the systematic kidnapping of girls and women during the 1930s and 1940s.”

He added that Abe should accept historical responsibility and apologize on behalf of the Japanese government, and “that the apology be unambiguous.”

Kyodo News Agency reported that Abe’s eight-day visit will be scheduled for April 26 to May 3, during which he will hold a summit with President Barack Obama.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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