Tokyo: Mayor Toru Hashimoto of Osaka, Japan, said that there is no evidence that the Imperial Japanese Army forced Korean women and girls into sexual servitude at wartime military brothels.
South Korean President Lee Myung Bak had demanded Japan to apologise to the forced sex workers, now often described as ‘sex slaves’ by media, who were called ‘comfort women’ by the Japanese.
“There is no evidence that people called comfort women were taken away by violence or threat by the (Japanese) military,” Hashimoto said, adding: “If there is such evidence, South Korea should provide it.”
According to the Japan Times, Hashimoto also said he is ‘not denying all of what South Korea is saying,’ adding: “The military brothel system may have been ethically problematic if viewed now”.
According to the report, in August 1993, after more than one and a half years of government research into the issue, then-chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono issued a statement saying that the Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of ‘comfort stations’ and the transfer of ‘comfort women’.
“The government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, etc, and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments," the report quoted the government statement, as saying. "It is deeply regrettable that the politician (Hashimoto) made remarks that run counter to the official position of the Japanese government," a South Korean government spokesman in an e-mail to The Japan Times said.
"Former chief cabinet secretary Kono issued a statement acknowledging the forcible recruitment of the so-called comfort women, sexual slavery victims drafted for the Japanese Imperial Army. As such, we believe the Japanese government has already acknowledged the forced nature of the recruitment of comfort women," the report quoted the spokesman, as saying.