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Ma urges Japan apology over comfort women

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday urged the Japanese government to properly handle the issue of comfort women — thousands of Taiwanese nationals were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.

During a meeting with two surviving Taiwanese comfort women yesterday at the Presidential Office, the president reiterated the nation's call for Japan to face the issue as soon as possible.

Commenting on the Japan and South Korea's recent talks on the comfort women issue, Ma noted that according to his understanding, there are no concrete results following the Tokyo-Seoul meeting.

He again urged Japan to deal the issue properly by “taking the right stance to face history.”

Ma made the comments a day after Japan and South Korea held a meeting Wednesday regarding the issue of Korean women forced to serve at brothels for the wartime Japanese military.

According to foreign media reports, senior officials of the two countries held rare high-level talks on Wednesday on the sensitive issue. Japan's Kyodo News cited an unnamed government official as saying that Tokyo is mulling an official apology and money for former comfort women in South Korea.

The meeting was part of efforts to improve bilateral relations ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's trip to the two countries starting next week, reports said.

Asked to comment on the Wednesday meeting, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said that 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.

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.

Apologize and Compensate

The government will continue to assist Taiwanese comfort women in demanding justice and restoration of their dignity from the Japanese government, she said.

She also hopes that any initiatives the Japanese government will be taking regarding the comfort women issue can also apply to the Taiwanese victims.

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 five of them who have spoken openly of their suffering at the hands of Japanese forces are still alive today.

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