そして、この3月27日の参院予算委員会での答弁を海外のメディアが、どのように報じているかが興味のあるところですが、BBC、NY TimesとWashington Postは以下でした。各報道の全文を”続きを読む”に入れておきます。
BBC 26 March 2007 "Japan PM apology on sex slaves"
NY Times March 27, 2007 "Japan Leader Who Denied State Role in Wartime Sex Slavery Still Apologizes"
Washington Post March 26, 2007 "Japan Apologizes to WWII Sex Slaves"
BBC 26 March 2007
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has apologised in parliament for the country's use of women as sex slaves during World War II.
The apology comes after Mr Abe was criticised by Asian neighbours for previous omments casting doubt on whether the women were coerced.
Mr Abe told parliament: "I apologise here and now as prime minister."
This appears to be part of a concerted bid to reduce the fall-out of earlier comments, a BBC correspondent says.
Mr Abe said, during a debate in parliament's upper house, that he stood by an official 1993 statement in which Japan acknowledged the imperial army set up and ran brothels for its troops during the war.
"As I frequently say, I feel sympathy for the people who underwent hardships, and I apologise for the fact that they were placed in this situation at the time," he said.
His statement has gone a little further than similar attempts to clarify his position two weeks ago, but is unlikely to satisfy all his critics abroad, the BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo says.
The row over his comments have compounded the difficulties facing Mr Abe. His six-month premiership has already been rocked by a series of scandals and gaffes.
An opinion poll on Monday found public support for him - Japan's youngest ever prime minister - had shrunk to just 35%.
Mr Abe provoked an angry reaction earlier this month after questioning whether there was any proof that the Japanese military kidnapped women to work as sex slaves during the war.
Mr Abe's comments drew sharp criticism from China and South Korea in particular, where many of the women came from.
Many historians believe Japan compelled up to 200,000 women - who also came from the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan - to become sex slaves during the war.
But some Japanese conservatives argue that the women were professional prostitutes who had been paid for their services, and any abuses were carried out by private contractors rather than the military.
Mr Abe's comments about the use of coercion were made as the US Congress began considering a non-binding resolution, which calls for Tokyo to make an unequivocal apology for the so-called comfort women.
Officials in Japan reject the idea that the prime minister should be told how to apologise by politicians from overseas, our correspondent says.
They say the draft resolution does not recognise the efforts that have been made to compensate the former comfort women.
Mr Abe's latest remarks in parliament have been made to clear up any misunderstanding and not as a result of outside pressure, they stress.
The New York Times March 27, 2007
Japan Leader Who Denied State Role in Wartime Sex Slavery Still Apologizes
TOKYO, March 26 — Facing increasing criticism for denying that Japan coerced women into sex slavery during World War II, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeatedly refused Monday to acknowledge state responsibility in recruiting the “comfort women,” but offered them an apology.
In a debate in Parliament, under intense questioning by an opposition lawmaker, Mr. Abe refused to withdraw a recent statement in which he said there was no evidence that the military had forcibly recruited women to work in brothels established throughout Asia.
But Mr. Abe chose his words carefully on Monday to avoid repeating his earlier denial, saying only, “What I said about coercion during the news conference, all of it became news, so that’s the way it was.”
When Haruko Yoshikawa, a Communist member of Parliament, asked Mr. Abe whether he considered as proof of coercion the testimony given by former sex slaves in the United States House of Representatives recently, Mr. Abe said he had no comment on their testimony.
The House of Representatives is considering a nonbinding resolution that would call on Japan to unambiguously acknowledge its wartime slavery and apologize for it.
Prompted by Ms. Yoshikawa to make a statement toward surviving sex slaves, who are now mostly in their 80s, Mr. Abe said, “I express my sympathy for the hardships they suffered and offer my apology for the situation they found themselves in.”
Mr. Abe said he would adhere to a 1993 government spokesman’s statement that acknowledged Japan’s role in managing the wartime “comfort stations,” as well as in forcibly recruiting sex slaves. But his repeated denial of coercion contradicted the 1993 statement, Ms. Yoshikawa said. The State Department urged Japan to take responsibility for its role in the wartime sex slavery, though on Monday it described Mr. Abe’s apology as a “step forward.”
“But I think this is a very difficult issue, and we certainly would want to see the Japanese continue to address this and to deal with it in a forthright and responsible manner that acknowledges the gravity of the crimes that were committed,” said Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman. That kind of critical language is rarely used against Japan by Washington, which has tried to stay clear of the history-related problems that have roiled East Asia in recent years.
Mr. Abe has been under pressure from his right-wing base to revise or reject the 1993 statement. At the same time, his denial of coercion has sparked outrage in Asia and the United States.
Mr. Abe’s ratings have slid drastically since he became prime minister in September, and his comments about the sex slaves have risked undermining his initial success in improving relations with China and South Korea.
His denial of state coercion has drawn charges of hypocrisy, because Mr. Abe won his popularity by championing the cause of 17 Japanese allegedly abducted by North Korea.
But Mr. Abe told reporters that the abductions were “a completely different matter” from the sex slavery matter.
Washington Post March 26, 2007
Japan Apologizes to WWII Sex Slaves
By HIROKO TABUCHI
The Associated Press
Monday, March 26, 2007; 4:09 PM
TOKYO -- Japan's nationalist prime minister on Monday offered his clearest apology yet to women who suffered in the country's World War II military brothels, but he did not bow to international pressure to acknowledge that Tokyo forced thousands into sexual slavery.
Shinzo Abe's apology came three weeks after he set off a furor by saying there is no evidence showing the women were coerced, backtracking from a previous government admission that the Japanese military forced women to work at brothels for its troops.
"I express my sympathy toward the `comfort women' and apologize for the situation they found themselves in," Abe told a parliamentary committee, using the euphemism for sex slaves that is used by Japanese politicians. "I apologize here and now as prime minister."
Historians say as many as 200,000 Asian women, mostly from Korea and China, worked in Japan's military-run brothels. Victims say they were forced to work at the brothels by the Japanese military and were held against their will.
But right-wing Japanese politicians, who make up the bulk of Abe's support base, have in recent weeks renewed efforts pushing for an official rollback on the landmark apology for sex slavery offered by a senior government official in 1993.
Conservative governing party lawmakers contend the women were professional prostitutes and were paid for their services. They also maintain Japanese military authorities were not directly responsible for establishing or running brothels.
Abe's earlier denial of coercion drew intense criticism from China and South Korea, which accuse Japan of failing to fully atone for wartime invasions and atrocities. Neither had any immediate reaction to his comments Monday.
The issue also has stirred debate in the United States, where a House committee is considering a nonbinding resolution calling on Japan to fully acknowledge wrongdoing during the war and to make an unambiguous apology.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey called Abe's apology a step forward, but urged Japan to deal more resolutely with the issue.
"We certainly want to see the Japanese continue to address this and to deal with it in a forthright and responsible manner that acknowledges the gravity of the crimes that were committed," Casey said.
Abe on Monday rebuffed criticism in American media for his efforts to champion the cause of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents decades ago while refusing to admit Japan's own past kidnappings.
North Korea's "abductions and the `comfort women' issue are a completely different matter," Abe told reporters. "The issue of the abductees is an ongoing violation of human rights, while it is not as if the `comfort women' issue is continuing."
Abe had said previously he would not offer a fresh apology, saying the government already expressed its remorse in the 1993 statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono _ the admission of sex slavery that right-wing politicians are urging the government to withdraw.
Japan has rejected most compensation claims from women who worked in the brothels. Instead, a private fund created in 1995 by the Japanese government has provided a way to support former sex slaves without offering official government compensation.
Many women rejected the payments, however, demanding formal government compensation and an apology approved by Japan's parliament.
In another aspect of war-related damage claims, a Japanese court on Monday rejected demands for compensation of about $1.6 million filed by a group of Chinese who were forced to work as slave laborers at a Japanese mine during World War II.
Miyazaki District Court dismissed the lawsuit seeking damages from the Japanese government and Mitsubishi Metals Corp., formerly Mitsubishi Metal, which operated the mine during the war, court spokeswoman Tomomi Hirata said.
Kyodo News Agency quoted the judge as saying the state would have had an obligation to pay damages but ruling that the compensation claims were brought after the 20-year filing deadline.