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Tokyo Regrets US Sex Slaves Bill
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Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday he regrets plans by a US House panel to vote on a resolution demanding Japan apologizes to wartime sex slaves.

"I think it is too bad," Aso told reporters when asked to comment on the planned vote. "The prime minister has expressed Japan's position and we stand by that," he said.

Aso's remark came after Kyodo News agency and public broadcaster NHK reported that the House Foreign Affairs Committee has decided to put the resolution to a vote on June 26. The House panel will likely pass the resolution, which will then be sent to the full House.

The nonbinding resolution calls for Japan to "formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner" for the women's ordeal.

"It's nonsense for the US to adopt a resolution that is based on complete fabrication and not on fact," ruling party lawmaker Nariaki Nakayama told a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Historians say as many as 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, China and the Philippines, worked in Japanese military brothels in the 1930s and '40s. Many victims say they were forced to work as sex slaves by military authorities and were held against their will.

After decades of denial, the Japanese government acknowledged its role in wartime prostitution after a historian discovered documents showing government involvement.

However, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rekindled controversy earlier this year by saying there is no evidence the women were coerced, apparently backtracking from the earlier apology.

(China Daily via agencies June 20, 2007 )

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