Agence France-Presse (“JAPAN SEEKS ‘CONSTRUCTIVE’ APPROACH TO SEX SLAVE ROW”, 2007-03-07) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisted that Japan stands by a 1993 government statement that apologised to so-called “comfort women” and admitted the military was at least indirectly responsible. “The US resolution is based on a mistake of fact,” Abe said, “It contains the misunderstanding that there was coercion, as in abductions carried out by the authorities,” he was quoted by Kyodo News as saying. “There was no such thing and I was just stating the fact that there have been no documents or witnesses of proof.”

The New York Times (“CHINA STRESSES TIES WITH JAPAN DESPITE SEX SLAVERY ISSUE”, 2007-03-07) reported that the PRC’s foreign minister on Tuesday urged Japan to accept responsibility for its use of “comfort women” sex slaves in World War II but made clear that the issue would not dampen the PRC’s desire to strengthen ties between the countries. The comments by the minister, Li Zhaoxing, were the PRC’s first official response since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan caused international outrage last week by denying that Japanese soldiers had forced foreign women into sexual slavery during the war.

Pravda (“NORTH KOREA CONDEMNS JAPAN FOR REJECTING SEX SLAVERY DURING WWII”, 2007-03-07) reported that the DPRK condemned Japan for denying it coerced Asian women to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II. The harsh rhetoric came a week after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said there was no proof that Japan forced Asian women to work in military brothels for its troops in World War II. Seoul’s Foreign Ministry has expressed “strong regret” over the remarks, accusing Tokyo of attempting to gloss over its wartime past. Abe’s comments came as the U.S. House of Representatives considers a resolution urging Japan to formally apologize for its treatment of the comfort women, the AP reports. Japan acknowledged in the 1990s that its military set up and ran brothels for its troops. In 1993, Japanese government issued an apology in 1993 but it was never approved by parliament. Abe’s remarks triggered outrage throughout the PRC, Republic of Korea and the Philippines, which say Tokyo has not fully atoned.