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Japanese editorial excerpts -3-.

TOKYO, March 7 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

'COMFORT WOMEN' ISSUE (IHT/Asahi as translated from the Japanese-language Asahi Shimbun's editorial published March 6)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ignited controversy at home and abroad for his remarks concerning ''comfort women''--Asian women in sexual servitude to Japanese troops during World War II.

Responding to a question from the press last week, Abe stated: ''There is no evidence to validate the coercion the way it was originally defined. We must now address this issue on the basis of this new understanding.''

The U.S. media and others said that the prime minister was denying the existence of wartime sex slaves, or any evidence thereof. Song Min Soon, the South Korean minister of foreign affairs and trade, reportedly said that such comments were not helpful.

These reactions, however, seem to have been excessive. Questioned by a Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) lawmaker during an Upper House Budget Committee meeting on Monday, the prime minister reiterated, ''The government continues to support the Kono statement.''

Issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993, the Kono statement represents the Japanese government's official stand on the ''comfort women'' issue. The statement admits that the Imperial Japanese Army was involved in the establishment of brothels and that the recruitment of the women was generally against their will. The statement also notes that the women were forced to live in dire conditions.

Immediately after becoming prime minister last year, Abe declared that he would continue to support the Kono statement. He now appears to be saying that since his stance has not changed, he does not want anyone to misunderstand him.

Abe seems fixated on the word ''coercion,'' and this is what has made his remarks difficult to understand. The prime minister explained Monday that there was ''coercion in the broad sense of the word,'' citing the fact that traders effectively recruited the women by force. But Abe said there was no ''coercion in the strict sense of the word,'' as in authorities abducting the women.

(March 7)
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Article Details
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 13, 2007
Words:344
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