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June 29, 2017

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World awaits Abe apology after Kono statement review

Last Friday, the Japanese government presented a report on their review of the 1993 Kono statement on the history of their military's sex slaves, euphemistically called comfort women. In the statement, Yohei Kono, the then-Cabinet secretary, acknowledged that women in Taiwan, Korea, China and Southeast Asian countries were forced to service imperial army troops before and during the Second World War and expressed Japan's "sincere apologies and remorse to all those who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women."

Not all the Japanese agree with Mr. Kono's statement. Among them is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

During his first term as premier in 2007, Abe said he did not believe all the women were coerced to become comfort women, so he had a blue ribbon panel formed last April to review the Kono statement.

The purpose was to appease conservatives like him who believe Japan does not have to apologize for the long-gone military brothels of history over and over.

The Abe order to review the statement angered South Korea and China and caused concern in the United States. As a consequence, a compromise review was presented, affirming no amendment to the Kono statement.

In presenting the report of the review, Yoshihide Suga, Cabinet secretary and government spokesman, reiterated Abe's pledge not to revise the Kono statement, and said: "There is no change in Japan's position that we feel our hearts aching over those who suffered hardships that are beyond all description."

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