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North Korea urges new Japan government to apologize for WWII 'comfort women'

[JURIST] North Korea called on the newly-elected Japanese government Monday to apologize for its use of Asian "comfort women" [Amnesty International backgrounder; JURIST news archive] by the Japanese Army in World War II. In an editorial [Korea Herald report] published in the communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmum, North Korea called on Japan to repudiate its past and urged it to emulate Germany, which apologized for its crimes during World War II and paid compensation to the victims. The editorial comes just a day after a major election victory [BBC report] for the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, marking only the second time that the Liberal Democrats [party websites] have been out of power since 1955.

The Liberal Democrats, the party of former prime minister Shinzo Abe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], have denied that the Japanese Army officially forced women to become prostitutes. In July 2007, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution [JURIST report] calling on Japan to apologize for its use of comfort women during WWII. Abe dismissed the resolution [JURIST report], claiming it was based on erroneous information [JURIST report], and claimed the women were professional prostitutes paid for their services. Abe has expressed sympathy and apologized [JURIST report] for the "situation" faced by so-called "comfort women" but stopped short of explicitly acknowledging the alleged roles of the wartime military and government in facilitating the practice. Japan has previously accepted that Japanese soldiers coerced [JURIST report] women into prostitution but denied government involvement.

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