Japan Inches Closer to Severing All Ties with Korea

The Abe administration plans to submit a report to the Diet this week claiming that a 1993 apology for Japan's wartime atrocities was only produced in its present form under pressure from Korea.

Back in 1993, the Japanese government spent 18 months researching involvement by the Japanese military in forcing women to serve as sex slaves to Japanese troops during World War II and admitted its wrongdoings in a statement delivered by then-Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. It was the first time that Japan admitted the forced mobilization of women as sex slaves.

The Kono Statement forms one of the two pillars that have maintained a fragile working relationship between Seoul and Tokyo over the last two decades. The other pillar is a statement in 1995 by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama who apologized for Japan's colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

The Abe administration has attempted to undermine the apology since it came to power in December 2012, and these efforts continue by fair means or foul.

According to Japanese media, the report to the Diet will stipulate Tokyo's claim that the Kono statement was the result of "political dealings" between Korea and Japan. The statement said the so-called "comfort stations," a euphemism for the military brothels, were created at the "request" of Japan's imperial military during World War II, but the report claims that Japan wanted the word "intention" while Seoul insisted on "order" or "instruction" so "request" was an inevitable compromise.

The Abe administration clearly intends to portray the Kono statement as the result of Korean pressure rather than objective research.

The Korean government denies the allegations, saying it provided data but did not negotiate the wording. And even if there was discussion between the two sides, they were part of diplomatic practice common to any countries and should not be targets of the Abe administration's campaign to discredit the Kono Statement.

The Abe administration's goal is simple: to disown responsibility for the atrocities Japan committed in World War II. The Kono Statement officially admits responsibility, so it has to go.

The forced mobilization of women as sex slaves during World War II was an act of unspeakable depravity. Yet the Abe administration seems intent on stooping even lower to duck responsibility.

At Washington's behest, Seoul and Tokyo have been taking baby steps to mend frayed relations, but the latest action by the Abe administration falls little short of an official attempt to sever all diplomatic ties.

Tokyo must realize that it is driving the situation to a point of no return. If the trilateral security alliance between Seoul, Washington and Tokyo breaks down, the blame will go to Shinzo Abe and his gang of revisionist thugs.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 17, 2014 12:54 KST