Conservative press backs Abe’s denial of sex slavery
Meanwhile, NY Times slams Japanese government’s ‘contortion of truth’
Amid the controversy surrounding Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s denial that the Japanese military forced foreign women into sexual slavery during World War II, Japan’s conservative newspapers such as the Yomiuri Shimbun and Sankei Shimbun have supported Abe’s stance as of March 7.
In connection with a nonbinding resolution introduced early February to the U.S. House of Representatives that would urge Tokyo to apologize for the so-called comfort women issue, the Yomiuri Shimbun claimed that there was no documentary evidence found by the Japanese government to prove the Japanese military systematically searched for potential comfort women. Regarding a 1993 statement by then chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono, containing an official apology and acknowledging the involvement of Japanese military authorities in the establishment of "comfort stations," the newspaper said that it was natural for lawmakers from Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to demand a correction of the Kono statement. The Sankei Shimbun agreed, saying, "To recover the honor of Japan, what is needed is the courage to truthfully talk about the matter of the comfort women with time and patience."
A New York Times editorial on March 6, however, slammed the Japanese government, saying that "Japan is only dishonored by such efforts to contort the truth." In relation to remarks by Abe that he had no intention to apologize even if U.S. lawmakers pass the resolution, the U.S. daily suggested that the Japanese government is now trying to reduce the crime to which it once admitted. The Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun also urged Abe to watch his words and not make remarks which could cause unnecessary misunderstanding.
According to the Mainichi Shimbun on March 7, conservatives from the LDP cancelled a plan to demand Abe to "correct" the Kono statement. The newspaper reported that Abe’s aides persuaded these lawmakers to abandon their efforts, citing the potential negative political effects of such a campaign.