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Japan formally denies coercion of wartime sex slaves in U.N. report

All News 11:45 January 31, 2016

TOKYO/SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- Japan has submitted its official position denying the forced nature of the Japanese military's sex slavery of Asian women during World War II to a U.N. organization after signing a deal with South Korea on the issue last month, according to a U.N. Website monitored Sunday.

The move prompted speculation that Tokyo may have begun efforts to spread its position against the forced nature of the wartime sex slavery throughout the international community. Japan has emphasized that the deal settled the dispute in a "final and irreversible" manner.

Under the deal, Japan apologized and 1 billion yen (US$8.29 million) in reparations will be funded by the country. South Korea agreed to end the dispute once and for all if Japan fully implements the deal.

The Japanese government claimed that there was no evidence to prove that the sex slavery was coerced in a written answer to questions from the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, according to the Website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The reply was sent ahead of the 63rd meeting of the committee set to be held from Feb. 15 to March 4 in Geneva.

"The government of Japan has conducted a full-scale fact-finding study on the comfort women issue since the early 1990s when the issue started to be taken up as a political issue between Japan and the Republic of Korea," the Japanese statement said.

It added that the study included research and investigation on related documents owned by the relevant ministries and agencies of the Japanese government; document research at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration; hearings from relevant individuals including former military parties and managers of comfort stations; and the analysis of testimonies collected by the Korean Council.

"Forceful taking away of comfort women by the military and government authorities could not be confirmed in any of the documents," it said.

It was not known when the submission was made but the timing is estimated to be recent judging from the fact that the statement mentioned the Dec. 28 deal between South Korea and Japan.

Historians estimate that more than 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for the Japanese military during the war. Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45.

The Japanese government has repeatedly claimed that there is no proof of the forced nature of the wartime sex slavery, but such a claim has been criticized by historians in Japan and elsewhere in the world as a "distortion of truth."

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