[JURIST] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [BBC profile; official website, in Japanese] on Thursday denied that the Japanese military forced Korean and Chinese women into prostitution during World War II, echoing sentiments by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso [official website] last month that a proposed US resolution urging Japan to apologize for the alleged practice was based on bad information [JURIST report]. Abe said there was little proof that any of the so-called "comfort women" [SFCU backgrounder] working in the Imperial Japanese Army [Wikipedia backgrounder] brothels were coerced into service. Many Japanese nationalists say the women were professional prostitutes, working in the brothels by choice. These claims are contradicted by testimony of victims [AI report] and soldiers, and by documents [GMU backgrounder] found in 1992 that show the military authorities worked directly with contractors to force approximately 200,000 women into sex slavery.
Abe is one of a number of politicians pushing for the government to revisit a 1993 official apology [text] to victims and downplay government involvement. In 1995 the Asian Women's Fund [official website] was created to compensate victims. The fund provides 2 Million yen ( about $20,000 USD) per victim from private donations, while the Japanese government allocated a total of 700 Million yen (about $6,000,000 USD) for victim medical expenses. Its mandate expires at the end of the month. AP has more.