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JAPAN: Abe pulls back on denials of WWII sex slavery

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Japan has acknowledged that it conducted only a limited investigation before claiming there was no official evidence that its imperial troops coerced Asian women into sexual slavery before and during World War II.
A parliamentary statement signed Tuesday by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged the government had a set of documents produced by a postwar international military tribunal containing testimony by Japanese soldiers about abducting Chinese women as military sex slaves. That evidence apparently was not included in Japan’s only investigation of the issue, in 1991-1993.
Tuesday’s parliamentary statement also said documents showing forcible sex slavery may still exist. The statement did not say whether the government plans to consider the documents as evidence showing that troops had coerced women into sexual slavery.
Over the past two days, top officials of Abe’s conservative government have appeared to soften their stance on Japan’s past apologies to neighboring countries for wartime atrocities committed by the Imperial Army, saying Japan does not plan to revise them.
The backtracking appears intended to allay criticisms of Abe’s earlier vows to revise the apologies, including an acknowledgment of sexual slavery during the war, and calm tensions with neighbors South Korea and China. The U.S. government also has raised concerns about Abe’s nationalist agenda.
Abe has acknowledged so-called “comfort women” existed but denied they were coerced into prostitution, citing a lack of official evidence. He also has repeatedly vowed to reassess apologies by past Japanese administrations. AP

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