Japanese government insisted the Ianfu was not business
According to an article in WSJ, two lawyer point out that Japanese government insisted that employing comfort women was not a commercial activity, and a federal district court of the United States decided that it was a "war crime":
When women who survived the sex-slavery camps sued Japan in federal court six years ago, they alleged that the whole sex slavery scheme functioned as commercial activity. Faced with this charge, Japan denied it had acted as a business. The D.C. District Court agreed, holding in effect that the fact that the women were abducted and enslaved pursuant to a Japanese government "master plan" distinguished their case from routine commercial prostitution. The court concluded that this "barbaric" conduct was more like a war crime or a crime against humanity than a commercial venture, and so Japan could not be held liable under the provision of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that allows governments to be sued when they act like businesses.This is the case of Hwang Geum Joo, et al. v. Japan, 172 F. Supp. 2d 52 (D.D.C., 2001). Indeed this claim of Japanese government seems to contradict the Kono statement, but it is only a tactics in court to escape the suit because the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act makes it immune if the Ianfu was not business. Japanese government didn't insist there was government coercion. The decision of the district court was reversed by the appeal court and the plaintiff lost finally in the supreme court.