March 5, 2007 / 7:23 AM / in 12 years

FACTBOX-Disputes over Japan's wartime "comfort women" continue

(Reuters) - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that Japan will not apologise again for forcing Asian women to act as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers even if a U.S. House of Representatives resolution on the matter is adopted, but he reiterated that a 1993 government apology still stood.

Here are some facts about the controversial issue:

* Many historians estimate that as many as 200,000 “comfort women” were forced into sexual slavery in the Imperial Japanese Army’s brothels during World War Two.

* Most women were from Korea but women from China, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia were also involved in “comfort stations”. These stations were in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, the then Malaya, Thailand, the then Burma, the then New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and the then French Indochina.

* The government acknowledged that coercion and deceit were used to procure women for the frontline brothels in 1993. It formally apologised in what is known as the “Kono Statement” after then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

*In 1995, Japan set up a private “Asian Women’s Fund” to make cash payments to survivors. The scheme stoked controversy because the fund was based on private donations; state money was used only to pay operational costs and for living expenses and health care. Angered by the lack of state compensation, some former comfort women refused to accept payments.

* The euphemistic term “comfort women” was deleted from many Japanese school textbooks in 2005, prompting outrage in South Korea, where 88 of 215 women listed with the Korean government as former “comfort women” in 2005 have died but others are pressing for compensation.

Source: Reuters, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (www.mofa.go.jp/policy/women/fund/index.html)

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