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Opinion: Japanese politicians skirt the past

Opinion: Japanese politicians skirt the past

September 10th, 2012 by The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, via The AP in News

From The Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, on the issue of "comfort women", from Aug. 31, 2012:

Japan-South Korea relations are souring again over the issue of "comfort women," who were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.

What opened up the discord was South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's comment that he landed on one of the disputed Takeshima islets on Aug. 10 because the Japanese government had made no progress on the comfort women issue despite Seoul's demand for compensation.

The islets in the Sea of Japan, controlled by South Korea, are claimed by Japan.

In response, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told a Diet committee this month that the government could not confirm the existence of documents that showed that the women were taken by force. South Koreans took his remarks as a distortion of history, and protests are spreading across South Korea.

We wonder if it was appropriate for Lee, as president, to incite nationalism by bringing up disagreements on the question of history. ...

Five years ago, Shinzo Abe, as prime minister, stated that there was no "coercion in the narrow sense," that authorities did not take away women by force like an abductor.

Later, the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament adopted resolutions demanding the Japanese government apologize for the comfort women issue, describing it as "one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century."

It was a warning by international society against Japanese politicians who are still unable to squarely face the mistakes Japan made in the past. ...