MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino lawmaker on Friday denounced a group of Japanese legislators and conservatives for saying the so-called comfort women were not sex slaves but paid prostitutes.
“That’s adding insult to injury,” Representative Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party told INQUIRER.net.
Maza said the statement of the Japanese group, which denied wartime forced prostitution ever existed, “is yet another form of violence against the women victims of sexual slavery during World War II.”
“The violent experiences of the comfort women have been researched, studied and documented,” she said.
The Japanese group, which included 13 national lawmakers and more than 200 local politicians, intellectuals and journalists, on Friday gave the US embassy in Tokyo a protest letter saying they were “surprised and shocked” by the US pressure for a fresh apology to so-called “comfort women.”
A US House committee last month overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for an “unambiguous” apology from Japan for the up to 200,000 women who served in army brothels before and during World War II.
In their letter to be distributed to US members of Congress, the Japanese conservatives said they felt “anger and sadness because the resolution is based on wrong information.”
“No sex slaves existed for Japanese military,” they said. “There were only business organizations and prostitutes to make money from soldiers.”
“This is the indisputable historical fact,” they added, urging US Congress members to reinvestigate and retract last month’s resolution.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe triggered controversy in March when he said there was no evidence that the women had been coerced into working as prostitutes, and he said Japan would not make a further apology in reaction to the US resolution.
Abe, facing international criticism, later said he stood by an earlier Japanese government apology, saying he sympathizes with the victims’ plight and regrets the “situation they found themselves in.”
After decades of denial, the Japanese government acknowledged its role in wartime sex slavery after a historian discovered documents showing government involvement. In 1993, the government issued a carefully worded official apology, but it was never approved by parliament.
Historians say up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, China and the Philippines, were sent to Japanese military brothels in the 1930s and ’40s. Many victims say they were forced to provide sexual services against their will to Japanese soldiers. Maila Ager, INQUIRER.net with reports from Agence France-Presse and Associated Press