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Wartime sex slavery an 'indescribable' wrong: ex-Japan PM

SEOUL- Former Japanese premier Tomiichi Murayama said Wednesday that Japan had committed "indescribable wrongdoings" by forcing women from South Korea and elsewhere to serve as sex slaves to its wartime troops.

Murayama, who as prime minister issued an apology in 1995 for Japan's wartime aggression, said it was time for Tokyo to finally resolve the issue of the so-called "comfort women" who were drafted into military brothels.

"Indescribable wrongdoings were committed, in which these women's dignity was forfeited. Japan must solve it," he said in a speech inside the parliament building in Seoul.

Murayama, now 89, had met Tuesday with three aged South Korean comfort women, after which he said he realised "that this issue must be settled expeditiously".

He also criticised some Japanese politicians and opinion-makers for making "nonsensical remarks" about the former sex slaves and stressed that the vast majority of Japanese people understood the wrong that had been committed.

Katsuto Momii, the new head of Japan's national broadcaster NHK, angered Seoul recently by stating that wartime sex slavery was common to any country at war.

Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula remains a hugely emotive issue in South Korea, which believes Japan has failed to live up to the spirit of the 1995 apology and not properly atoned for its past aggression.

Relations hit a new low in December when the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, visited a controversial war shrine which commemorates around 2.5 million Japanese war dead including several high-level war criminals.

Murayama arrived on Tuesday for a three-day visit at the invitation of an opposition party.

He reportedly requested a meeting with President Park Geun-Hye but was turned down on account of her "busy schedule".

Park has made it clear she will not hold a summit with Abe until the Japanese leader takes steps to address South Korea's historical grievances.

February 13, 2014    clh0728@
So this begets the question. Why didn't Murayama-san say this when he was in the government and do something about it? What he said now carries no weight.
February 16, 2014    krane8@
Murayama could only talk about it when he was PM, anything more than that would have been a brief tenure at that position. Topics regarding Japanese WW2 crimes are taboo in Japan. Extremists within Japan still exist today. Journalists or researchers seeking info into such topics are still harassed/threatened even to this day.

Japan sold its soul to the devil long ago...late 1800s...due to the Western colonial period in Asia. Japanese elite resented Westerners walking all over them. So why fight them, rather join them. Thus, Japanese Imperialism was born. Big mistake, now not many nations in Asia trust them. You rip what you sow.
February 18, 2014    lightcrusaderjr@
Calling evil what it truly is is the right thing to do whatever the time or season. Apologizing for it and making reparation to the victims is also a concrete step for healing the wounds. But politicians should not just use the issue to stir up false nationalism to cover up their own excesses and greedy ambitions.
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Former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, right, meets with former comfort women during a visit to Seoul on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

(AFP)

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