Pundits including some Japanese politicians warn that former prime minister Shinzo Abe's denial of Tokyo's responsibility for the sexual enslavement of Asian women during World War II is a grave affront to the international community.
In 2008, the UN conducted a study on the former sex slaves in conjunction with member nations. In October the same year, the UN's civil and political rights committee adopted a report expressing "concern that the State party [Japan] has still not accepted its responsibility for the 'comfort women' system during World War II."
"Comfort women" is the euphemism Japan uses to refer to the sex slaves.
Japan "should accept legal responsibility and apologize unreservedly for the 'comfort women' system in a way that is acceptable to the majority of victims and restores their dignity, prosecute perpetrators who are still alive, take immediate and effective legislative and administrative measures to adequately compensate all survivors as a matter of right," the report said.
It also recommended that Tokyo "educate students and the general public about the issue, and to refute and sanction any attempts to defame victims or to deny the events."
In 2009, a UN committee on the rights of women also called on Japan to compensate the victims.
In 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on the former sex slaves urging Japan to resolve the issue. It criticized their mobilization as "forced military prostitution by the government of Japan, considered unprecedented in its cruelty and magnitude."
Cho Tae-young, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry here, said in a statement on Wednesday, "Recently, some Japanese leaders and politicians have been ignoring both the suffering of the victims and the solemn decisions of the international community. Japan must realize that there is no future for a country that turns a blind eye to history."