Tokyo: Japanese academics presented on 17April what they said was additional evidence to prove that the military kidnapped women to serve as sex slaves during World War Two, rejecting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s claims.
The academics, belonging to a centre looking into Japan’s war responsibility, also urged Abe’s government to come up with a clearer apology to the women, mostly from Asia and offer them compensation.
Abe has come under fire for his remarks last month that there was no proof that the government or the military forced women to work in the wartime brothels as “comfort women”, as the sex slaves are known in Japan.
The Japanese leader has apologized for the sex slaves and has said he stands by a 1993 statement that acknowledged official involvement in the management of the brothels, but has also said he would apologize again even if U.S. lawmakers adopted a resolution seeking one.
Hirofumi Hayashi, professor at Kanto-Gakuin University, presented at a news conference several documents, submitted as evidence to the Tokyo war crimes tribunal, showing that Japanese military had kidnapped women to work as sex slaves.
“It is a great mystery why the Japanese government ignores these documents,” Hayashi said, pointing out that Japan must acknowledge them as it accepted the rulings of the Allied-run tribunal when it signed peace treaties that ended the war.
Hayashi said he had found the documents last year, but decided to disclose them now in response to remarks by Abe and others in government denying military involvement in kidnapping the women.
“Our work throughout the 90s had made it clear that the military was involved. But there have been overt moves by the government to deny this,” Hayashi said.
Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a history professor at Chuo University, said the government should recognize that the wartime government and military were responsible, adding that it should offer an apology clearer than that in the 1993 statement.
“It left it ambiguous as to who ‘injured the women´,” he said. “Also it’s shocking that there are no statements issued under a cabinet decision or approval regarding comfort women,” Yoshimi said. “The government needs to send out a clearer message.”
The government has said it is not liable for such compensation as the issue was settled under peace treaties that ended the war, but it did provide funds to the Asian Women’s Fund that offered compensation and medical care to victims.