U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has upset key ally Japan by reportedly demanding that all official documents refer to women drafted as prostitutes for the Japanese military during World War II as "enforced sex slaves" rather than by the euphemism "comfort women."
The Nelson Report, which is widely read in Washington political circles, reported that Clinton is interested in the issue and considers the treatment of the victims a serious human rights violation. According to a diplomatic source in Seoul, Clinton recently objected to the term "comfort women" when she was briefed by a State Department official.
A State Department official stopped short of confirming the decision on Monday but said the treatment of the women was "deplorable."
The periodical said Clinton's decision shocked Japanese officials, who interpret it as siding with Korea and other countries whose citizens were also drafted as "comfort women."
Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told reporters on Tuesday that officials are verifying whether Clinton really did give the order to change the terminology. "If that is confirmed, I will tell her that it is an incorrect expression and explain to her the steps that we have taken, including an apology by the prime minister and the creation of a fund to support women in Asia in order to help comfort women," he said.