A group of U.S. lawmakers wrote to the Japanese government on Friday protesting against Tokyo’s review of a 1993 apology for its sexual enslavement of women during World War II.
The 18 members of the House of Representatives sent the letter to Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Kenichiro Sasae.
The rightwing Japanese government has been engaged in a stealthy campaign to distance itself from the 1993 apology by then-Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono admitting that the Imperial Army was involved, directly and indirectly, in forcing Asian women into sexual slavery for troops.
Recently, a team of experts appointed by the Japanese government submitted a report stating that the apology only took its present form under pressure from Korea.
The lawmakers, led by Rep. Mike Honda, said in their letter that they find the timing and release of the report "regrettable and unfortunate." They said the report draws attention away from the plight of surviving victims of the atrocity.
"The report's findings suggest that the coercion by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces of the 'comfort women' remains unconfirmed. This is unacceptable," they said. "It is our fervent hope that in addressing the suffering of the comfort women, the government of Japan will move forward in a responsible and unequivocal manner."