Yohei Kono, the former Japanese cabinet secretary who in a statement in 1993 admitted the drafting of sex slaves for the Japanese Imperial Army, on Monday slammed rightwing Japanese politicians who want to revise his historic statement.
Kono said his government pored over records not only in Korea and Japan but the U.S. Library of Congress before issuing the statement. He added any denial of the role the Japanese military played in forcing Asian women, mostly Korean, to serve as sex slaves during World War II would cost Japan its credibility on the international stage.
Kono was speaking to the Yomiuri Shimbun, a conservative paper that has also recently demanded a revision of the statement.
He told the paper former sex slaves who were interviewed for the statement in 1993 said they were rounded up by force and told they were going to work in factories, but ended up having to service up to 20 men a day. He said his government concluded the women were forced into sexual slavery based on various records and testimonies.
"Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who read the testimonies at that time, was shocked, and the cabinet made the decision to announce the statement," Kono said. "I regret the denials of the existence of the women and the wartime tragedies they experienced simply because of a lack of records to support their claims as they continue to suffer half a century later."
Denying the existence of comfort women "could cause not only Asian countries, but the U.S. and Europe to view with suspicion Japan's sense of human rights and lead to a loss of national credibility," he added.