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「何をかいわんや」浅野氏差別問題を争点 (日刊スポーツ 2007/03/27)
Japanese prime minister apologizes to World War II-era sex slaves
By Hiroko Tabuchi, Associated Press Writer
Published: 27 March 2007
Japan's nationalist prime minister apologized yesterday to women who suffered in the country's wartime brothels, but stopped short of bowing to international pressure by clearly acknowledging Tokyo's role in forcing thousands into sexual slavery.
"I express my sympathy toward the comfort women and apologize for the situation they found themselves in," Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary committee on Monday, using a euphemism used by Japanese politicians for sex slaves. "I apologize here and now as prime minister."
Abe's apology was his clearest yet since the conservative leader triggered international furore earlier this month by saying there was no evidence that women were coerced into sexual service in the World War II era.
Still, his remarks fell short of demands made by victims that Abe clearly acknowledge that the wartime military forced the women into prostitution.
Historians say that as many as 200,000 Asian women, mostly from Korea and China, worked in military-run brothels. Victims say they were forced into the brothels by the Japanese military and were held against their will.
But right-wing politicians, which make up a bulk of Abe's support base, have in recent weeks made renewed efforts to push for an official revision of a landmark apology offered by a senior government official in 1993.
Conservative ruling party lawmakers argue that the women were professional prostitutes and were paid for their services, and maintain that the military authorities were not directly responsible for the establishment or running of the brothels.
Abe's earlier denial of coercion drew intense criticism from China and Korea, which accuse Japan of failing to fully atone for wartime invasions and atrocities.
The issue also has stirred debate in the United States, where a committee in the House of Representatives is considering a nonbinding resolution calling on Japan to fully acknowledge wrongdoing and make an unambiguous apology.
Abe rebuffed criticism in the US media for his efforts to champion the cause of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents decades ago, while refusing to own up to Japan's own past kidnappings.
"(North Korea's) abductions and the comfort women issue are a completely different matter," Abe told reporters. "The issue of the abductees is an ongoing violation of human rights, while it is not as if the comfort women issue is continuing."
Abe had said previously he would not offer a fresh apology, saying the government expressed its remorse in a 1993 statement on the matter by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. Right-wing politicians who make up the bulk of Abe's support base have made renewed efforts in recent weeks to roll back that apology.
Japan has rejected most compensation claims from victims. Instead, a private fund created in 1995 by the Japanese government has provided a way to support former sex slaves without offering official government compensation.
Many women rejected the payments, demanding government compensation and a parliament-approved apology.
Also yesterday, a Japanese court rejected demands for compensation of about US$1.56 million by a group of Chinese forced to work as slave laborers at a Japanese mine during World War II, an official said.
The Miyazaki District court dismissed the lawsuit seeking damages from the Japanese government and Mitsubishi Metals Corp., formerly Mitsubishi Metal, that operated the mine during the war, court spokeswoman Tomomi Hirata said.
Kyodo News agency quoted the judge as saying the state has an obligation to pay damages but the 20-year deadline for filing compensation claims had expired.
The New York Times
March 27, 2007
Japan Leader Who Denied State Role in Wartime Sex Slavery Still Apologizes
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
TOKYO, March 26 — Facing increasing criticism for denying that Japan coerced women into sex slavery during World War II, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeatedly refused Monday to acknowledge state responsibility in recruiting the “comfort women,” but offered them an apology.
In a debate in Parliament, under intense questioning by an opposition lawmaker, Mr. Abe refused to withdraw a recent statement in which he said there was no evidence that the military had forcibly recruited women to work in brothels established throughout Asia.
But Mr. Abe chose his words carefully on Monday to avoid repeating his earlier denial, saying only, “What I said about coercion during the news conference, all of it became news, so that’s the way it was.”
When Haruko Yoshikawa, a Communist member of Parliament, asked Mr. Abe whether he considered as proof of coercion the testimony given by former sex slaves in the United States House of Representatives recently, Mr. Abe said he had no comment on their testimony.
The House of Representatives is considering a nonbinding resolution that would call on Japan to unambiguously acknowledge its wartime slavery and apologize for it.
Prompted by Ms. Yoshikawa to make a statement toward surviving sex slaves, who are now mostly in their 80s, Mr. Abe said, “I express my sympathy for the hardships they suffered and offer my apology for the situation they found themselves in.”
Mr. Abe said he would adhere to a 1993 government spokesman’s statement that acknowledged Japan’s role in managing the wartime “comfort stations,” as well as in forcibly recruiting sex slaves. But his repeated denial of coercion contradicted the 1993 statement, Ms. Yoshikawa said. The State Department urged Japan to take responsibility for its role in the wartime sex slavery, though on Monday it described Mr. Abe’s apology as a “step forward.”
“But I think this is a very difficult issue, and we certainly would want to see the Japanese continue to address this and to deal with it in a forthright and responsible manner that acknowledges the gravity of the crimes that were committed,” said Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman. That kind of critical language is rarely used against Japan by Washington, which has tried to stay clear of the history-related problems that have roiled East Asia in recent years.
Mr. Abe has been under pressure from his right-wing base to revise or reject the 1993 statement. At the same time, his denial of coercion has sparked outrage in Asia and the United States.
Mr. Abe’s ratings have slid drastically since he became prime minister in September, and his comments about the sex slaves have risked undermining his initial success in improving relations with China and South Korea.
His denial of state coercion has drawn charges of hypocrisy, because Mr. Abe won his popularity by championing the cause of 17 Japanese allegedly abducted by North Korea.
But Mr. Abe told reporters that the abductions were “a completely different matter” from the sex slavery matter.