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Abe says no plan to revise apology over sex slavery

All Headlines 15:04 March 14, 2014

TOKYO, March 14 (Yonhap) -- Japan has no plan to revise a landmark apology over its sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday, amid growing criticism over Tokyo's attempts to deny the atrocity.

Japan admitted to coercing Korean women into sexual slavery and apologized for it in a 1993 statement that was named after its then chief cabinet secretary, Yohei Kono. But the right-wing Abe administration suggested last month a plan to review the apologetic statement, triggering wild backlash from Seoul.

"The Abe cabinet is not thinking of a revision of it (Kono Statement) as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said so in a conference," the prime minister said in the upper house's budget committee meeting.

"(Issues regarding) historical perspectives should not be made political and diplomatic issues," Abe said, apparently referring to Seoul's veto of fence-mending with Japan over the so-called comfort women issue. "Studies of history should be left to scholars."

This is the first time the right-wing prime minister has officially committed himself to not reviewing the Kono Statement.

The U.S. Barack Obama administration's diplomatic pressure on the nationalistic Japanese government has reportedly played a major part in Abe's reversal of his stance.

In the same meeting, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga said, "the basic stance of the government is to inherit the Kono Statement."

But the secretary added that the government will still maintain its plan to verify the testimonies of 16 Korean former sex slaves used to draw up the 1993 statement.

Historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude at front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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