[JURIST] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [official website, in Japanese] said Tuesday that the recently passed US House of Representatives resolution [HR 121 materials; JURIST report] calling for a formal apology from Japan for forcing Asian women to become "comfort women" [Amnesty backgrounder; JURIST news archive] during World War II is "regrettable." Abe said that Japan has already taken steps to atone for what happened during the war, as leaders have apologized for it repeatedly since 1990, when the country recognized the occurrence of sex slavery. Japan formally apologized in the 1993 Kono Statement [text] in which the Japanese government offered its "sincere apologies and remorse" to the victims after decades of denying official involvement.
The resolution came as a reaction to Abe's March statements denying allegations of forced sexual slavery [JURIST report], saying instead that the women were professional prostitutes paid for their services. Abe's statements echoed the sentiments of Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso, who made similar remarks [JURIST report] in February. Abe later issued a guarded apology [JURIST report], although he stopped short of explicitly acknowledging the role played by the Japanese military and government in facilitating the brothels. Last month, a Japanese group consisting of 13 right-wing parliamentarians and more than 200 local politicians, nationalist intellectuals and historians called on the US House of Representatives to retract the resolution [JURIST report], claiming that the resolution is based upon "wrong information" and contradicts "historical fact." AP has more.