Japan and S. Korea coordinated wording in comfort women apology

Japan and S. Korea coordinated wording in comfort women apology
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono announces a statement on so-called comfort women on Aug. 4, 1993.

A report on the examination of a 1993 statement in which an apology was made over so-called comfort women states that the Japanese and South Korean governments coordinated the wording of the statement.

The government reported to the Diet on Friday the findings of the examination conducted by a team set up by the government, which comprises scholars and others. The team has been examining the process of how the 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, known as the Kono statement, was composed.

According to the report, one of the main sticking points in the coordination was "the 'coerciveness' of the recruitment of the comfort women."

The report said the South Korean side had "limits that it could not go beyond" and that its people would not accept the idea that some women became comfort women voluntarily.

In late April 1993, the South Korean side warned measured expressions such as that there was "coerciveness in some cases" would end up causing a furor. Discussion of the word "coerciveness" continued to the very end of the process.

The report added that "if seen across the stages of their 'recruitment, transfer, control, etc.,' regardless of how they were recruited, the sense that this was conducted as a whole against the will of the individuals was finally coordinated as being expressed [under the Kono statement] as 'generally against their will, through coaxing, coercion, etc.'"

The report said the Japanese side argued that the "forcefully taking away" of women could not be confirmed based on existing studies.

However, the Japanese side agreed to the South Korean request that "remorse" be added to the expression of apology.

Regarding such prior communication between Japan and South Korea, on Aug. 2, 1993, the Japanese side stated that it should not be disclosed to the media, and the South Korean side agreed to this.

In addition, the South Korean side was to say that it had received the content of the statement by fax from the Japanese side only just before the announcement. Also, on the release of the statement on Aug. 4, the response guidelines prepared by Japanese officials included a line that there had been "no prior consultation" with the South Korean side and that the result was communicated immediately before.

At the press conference on Friday afternoon, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reiterated that the government's position of standing by the Kono statement will not change.

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