[JURIST] The US House of Representatives Monday approved a non-binding resolution [HR 121 materials; press release], asking Japan to formally apologize [JURIST report] for enslaving hundreds of thousands of women in East Asia and the Pacific to serve as "comfort women" [Amnesty backgrounder; JURIST news archive] for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. The resolution was introduced in January by Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA) [official website] and over 160 lawmakers, but has received criticism from Japanese Ambassador to the US Ryozo Kato [official profile].
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [official website, in Japanese] has denied allegations of forced sexual slavery, saying instead that the US House resolution is "not based on objective facts" [JURIST reports] because the women were professional prostitutes paid for their services. He later issued a guarded apology [JURIST report], though he stopped short of explicitly acknowledging the role played by the Japanese military and government in facilitating the brothels. Earlier this month, a Japanese group consisting of 13 right-wing parliamentarians and more than 200 local politicians, nationalist intellectuals and historians called on the US [JURIST report] to retract the resolution, claiming that it is based upon "wrong information" and contradicts "historical fact." AP has more.