TOKYO: Japan has no plan to revise a landmark 1993 apology over wartime sex slavery, the government’s top spokesman said on Monday, despite a controversial review of the statement, which has sparked a backlash at home and abroad.
The landmark apology, known as the Kono statement, acknowledged official com–plicity in the coercion of women from across Asia into a system of wartime brothels, an issue that draws particular resentment in neighboring South Korea.
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye has warned Japan that it would face “isolation” if it pushed ahead with a move to revisit the apology.
“The government does not intend to revise the Kono statement,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo on Monday.
In 1993, after hearing tes–timony from 16 Korean wo–men, the Kono statement offered “sincere apologies and remorse” to the women and vowed to face the historical facts squarely.
The current review was aimed at verifying historical facts, Suga said.
“There have also been sug–gestions that Japan might have negotiated with South Korea over the content of the apology” at the time, he added.
It was unclear what would happen if Tokyo’s review was at odds with the official apology.
Respected historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also from China, Indonesia, the Phi–lippines and Taiwan, were forced to serve as sex slaves in Japanese army brothels.
But the government of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly said evidence given by “comfort women”—a euphemism for those forced to work in military brothels—that forms the basis of the apology is to be re-examined.
Repeated wavering on the issue among senior right-wing po–liticians has contributed to a feeling in South Korea that Japan is in denial and is not sufficiently remorseful.
The move to revisit the statement has raised eyebrows not only in South Korea, but also in the United States and among Japanese historians.
A senior official at the US embassy in Tokyo has expressed “strong concern” over Tokyo’s plans, the Tokyo Broadcasting System reported on Monday.
An embassy press officer declined comment on the report.
On Friday, a group of Ja–panese historians stood behind the apology, and slammed any move to change it as “unforgivable.”