Japanese envoy: 'Comfort women' issues already settled
MANILA - Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe said Wednesday that the demands of Filipino wartime sex slaves for an official apology and just compensation from the Japanese government have long been settled.
In an interview with Kyodo News after attending an annual forum of Philippine President Benigno Aquino with foreign correspondents, Urabe said Japan had already "made a formal apology" and "given money to the former victims who have come out" through a foundation that it established.
Urabe was referring to the 2001 letter of apology issued by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and the Asian Women's Fund that the Japanese government established in 1995 to compensate the so-called "comfort women."
The present group of comfort women in the Philippines continue to dismiss the apologies of Japanese government officials as not the government's official apology, and the atonement that some of them received from the Asian Women's Fund as only from the Japanese people, and not from the government.
An estimated 1,000 Filipino women are believed to have been sexually abused by the Japanese military during World War II. More than 130 of them are still alive.
Saying that Japan already settled its wartime liabilities through the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and war reparations, Urabe stressed, "I can confidently say that we have formally apologized and made compensation" to the comfort women.
But he acknowledged that "everyone will not be happy about the solution."