Monday, March 5, 2007

Japan won't apologize again for sex slaves

Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, said yesterday in the Senate that his government will not apologize again to the women who were forced to serve in the brothels established for the sexual satisfaction of the Japanese soldiers in many parts of Asia, during World War II. "Even if the resolution is approved, that does not mean that we are going to apologize", said Abe in reference to the nonbinding motion that the Californian congressman of Japanese origin, Mike Honda, has introduced in the US Congress to demand Japan to apologize in an unequivocal manner to the so called “sexual slaves”.
Abe, nevertheless, said that he maintains the 1993 declaration (known as "Kono declaration", by the name of the then spokesman of the government, Yohei Kono), by which Japan apologized and recognized that the Imperial Army had participated in the establishment and management of the brothels and admitted that coercion had been used.
On its words of last Thursday, where he said that there were no proves that such coercion in the establishment of the brothels had existed, Abe admitted yesterday that yes there were cases in that took place, but that it was carried out by civilian intermediaries and not by the military. "It is not that the military entered private houses and they kidnapped people", said Abe.
Some historians put in 200.000 the number of Asian women who served in the brothels for the Japanese military. It is practically impossible to prove the exact number of cases in which the women were forced to serve for the pleasure of the soldiers, but there exist numerous direct testimonies of victims, mainly Korean, and even of the Japanese military, that make clear the generalization of the abuses. In 1995, under the government of coalition between the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Socialist Party, presided by Tomiichi Murayama, Japan established a private found, that expires at the end of this month, to compensate the women forced to serve in the brothels, but the associations of victims always have demanded official indemnifications, as a way of unequivocal assumption of responsibility on the part of the Japanese State.
Abe, who arrived in power in September with a reputation of being more nationalistic than his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, surprised from the beginning with his efforts to improve diplomatic relations with China and South Korea, specially damaged by the annual visits by Koizumi to Yasukuni shrine, where millions of Japanese combatants and 14 war criminals, responsible for atrocities committed by the Imperial Army, are honored.
In his first five months in power, Abe has seen his popularity rates deep constantly, largely because of his weakness before the LDP barons and his reversion of some of the reformist measures that had made Koizumi popular.
Where Koizumi seemed to yield to the extreme right in the symbolic things to be able to impose his reformist policies, Abe appeared until Thursday to be moderating his nationalistic positions to be able to introduce conservative policies. Prime Minister Abe, who wants to reform the pacifist Constitution and has succeed in introducing patriotism in education, is dammed to continue juggling if he wants to simultaneously satisfy his nationalistic follower base and the international community.

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