Japan denies forced nature of sex slaves in statement

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Japan denies forced nature of sex slaves in statement

Japan has once again denied the forced nature of sexual slavery during World War II that historians say put nearly 200,000 women in military brothels in a position statement submitted to a United Nations organization.

In its statement to the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Japan said it “conducted a full-scale fact-finding study” on sexual slavery, whose victims are euphemistically called “comfort women,” and it could not confirm the victims were forcibly taken to provide sexual service to its men in uniform.

“‘Forceful taking away’ of comfort women by the military and government authorities could not be confirmed in any of the documents that the [government of Japan] was able to identify,” the statement reads, according to the website of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

As for the committee’s question of whether Japan plans to teach students about the sex slave issue by including it in school textbooks, Japan replied it was not entitled to answer such a question because the country “does not adopt a government-designated textbook system.”

Given the statement, submitted ahead of a meeting of the committee beginning later this month, mentioned the Dec. 28 agreement between Korea and Japan, it is thought that Japan sent the statement sometime after the bilateral deal was made.

Under the agreement, Japan acknowledged “the involvement of the military authorities of the day” in the subjugation of Korean women for comfort service and that the wartime practice “severely injured the honor and dignity of many women.”

The agreement also includes a plan to establish a fund for the victims using 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) of Japan’s state budget. The two sides agreed that the settlement is “final and irreversible,” as long as Japan faithfully follows through with it.

But this latest statement has again raised questions over Japan’s sincerity in its position stipulated in the Dec. 28 deal. It has also spawned speculation that the Tokyo government has launched global campaign to spread its position that the comfort women system was not forcibly conducted by its imperial government.

In response to the statement, the Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Sunday the coerced mobilization and transport of comfort women for Japanese soldiers during the wartime is an “irrefutable historical fact” that has been clearly “accepted by the international community.”

Japan’s statement to the UN follows Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s repeated remarks that denied that Japan forced Korean women into wartime sexual slavery, despite the Dec. 28 deal.

Speaking at a budget meeting of the Diet’s upper house in Tokyo on Jan. 18, Abe restated his long-held position that the Japanese government has not found any evidence of “forced mobilization” of the women by the military in documents. “There has been no change to this position,” he said.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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