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ROC calls on Japan to apologize to and pay comfort women

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan has continued to urge the Japanese government to apologize and compensate the Taiwanese nationals who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said yesterday that it has been the R.O.C. Government's long-standing position that Japan should assume responsibility over the comfort women issue.

Kao reiterated the call on the Japanese government to look squarely at historical facts, deeply reflect on them and work to develop friendly relations with other countries to handle the issue properly.

The MOFA official's comments came as a response to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's previous remark made last Friday that his government would not revise a landmark 1993 apology to those Asian women who were forced to serve in wartime military brothels.

The 1993 apology issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono recognized the involvement of Japanese authorities in coercing the women to work in the military brothels — a point many conservative Japanese dispute.

Some Japanese nationalist politicians recently have been calling on the Japanese government to revise the apology, arguing there is no evidence of large-scale coercion by government authorities or the military.

Asked to comment on the issue at a parliamentary panel Friday, Abe said he was “deeply pained to think of the comfort women who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering, a feeling I share equally with my predecessors.”

”The Kono Statement addresses this issue ... and, as my Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga stated in news conferences, the Abe Cabinet has no intention to review it,” he said.

In Taipei, Kao said yesterday that MOFA has noticed the comments made by Abe.

Taipei has been calling Tokyo to face the issue with responsibility and forward thinking.

The R.O.C. Government will continue to assist Taiwanese comfort women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese government to seek a formal apology and provide compensation, she said.

Taiwanese Comfort Women

Comfort women were women forced into a prostitution corps created by the Empire of Japan during World War II. Most of the women were from occupied countries in Asia, including Korea, China and the Philippines.

According to the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, more than 2,000 Taiwanese women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during the war, but only six of them who have spoken openly of their suffering at the hands of Japanese forces are still alive today.

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