International Humanity

A Blog Started to Record my thoughts on International News events

Japan Hesitant to Formally Apologize for Imperialism-Era Sex Offenses

Posted by alexfrancis on March 4, 2007


According to the articles, historians attest to the fact that during the 1930’s and 1940’s, about 200,000 Asian women served in Japanese military brothels. Accounts of abuse have been backed up by former Japanese military officers as well as the women themselves and other witnesses.

However, Prime Minister Abe denied the existence of proof for such practices in a recent statement on March 1: “The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion.”

Because of this denial, there were a number of outraged people in Asia who have evidence proving otherwise. Women’s rights activists in the Philippines and a group of lawmakers in South Korea denounced Abe’s remarks. The South Korean prime minister has said that anyone who doubts Japanese abuse should “face the truth”. These are all examples of the friction Abe’s statement generated denying the coercive practices.

The United States urged Japan to make formal apologies just as the US did to the Japanese-Americans whom were gathered into internment camps during World War II.  Abe eventually did agree to apologizing for the sex offenses on March 4 following the advice of Hiroshige Seko, special adviser in charge of Abe’s public relations.

It seems as if Japan is not wielding very much soft power in the global arena. Japan did not sign the North Korea pact because of the unrelated issue of abduction and is now viewed as a country that is hesitant to admit to its failure in the past. Prime Ministers such as Koizumi even have venerated war criminals at the Yasukuni war shrine. All of these issues are piling up to give Japan a bad reputation in Asia. Perhaps Japan’s best assets will remain its economy and the possibility of mobilizing its self-defense forces with greater freedom.

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