A group of Japanese lawyers who have been helping "comfort women" seek retribution handed a petition on Wednesday to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying the government should face up to its past and bestow some dignity upon the wartime sex slaves.
The action came on the heels of a resolution on Tuesday by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, which called on Japan to formally acknowledge and take responsibility for forcing women into sexual slavery during World War II.
In the petition, lawyers from in nine lawsuits filed by victims from China, the Philippines and South Korea urged the Japanese government to strictly abide by the Kono Statement, which constitutes an official apology over the sexual slavery forced upon around 200,000 women from conquered Asian lands during the war.
The petition stated central authorities should meet with victims and related people to come up with a full settlement of the "comfort women" issue, the petition read.
The US resolution was welcomed by some Japanese civil groups with the Japan Action Network for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery adding its voice to the clamor asking the government to "officially apologize" to each victim of the wartime sex slavery history.
The "comfort women" system, created as "national policy" by the wartime government, caused severe suffering to women in countries invaded by Japan, the Network said in a statement, adding that the US Congress resolution stood out as an echo of international public opinion.
The unbinding resolution also calls on Shinzo Abe to issue a public apology and to cease all action within the government that would refute any claims that such atrocities never took place. The measure will now go to a full House vote.
(Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2007)