South Korea Protests Japan’s Report on Sexual Slavery Apology

South Korea lodged an official protest with Japan over its review of a 1993 apology to women trafficked to Japanese military brothels across Asia before and during World War II.

Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong summoned Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho to the ministry to protest over a report released June 20 concluding that Japan consulted with South Korea over the language of the apology. The so-called Kono Statement aimed to show that Japan acknowledged and took responsibility for the action of the Imperial Army.

South Korea has said the investigation that led to the report, which aimed to review the evidence given by victims of the Imperial Army’s sexual trafficking, was an effort to backtrack on Japan’s apologies over wartime atrocities.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga confirmed today that Japan’s ambassador had been summoned in Seoul and that Bessho explained Japan’s point of view on the issue.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye has said Japan must address the issue of the comfort women, many from Korea, who were trafficked in military brothels, before ties between the two countries can improve. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Park have yet to hold a bilateral summit.

China, which has accused Abe of trying to revive Japanese militarism, was also critical of the report.

“The forced recruitment of comfort women is a serious crime against humanity committed by the Japanese military during the Second World War,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a briefing in Beijing today. “The evidence is ironclad. These investigations further expose Japan’s reluctance to face up to history.”

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