According to Sankei Shimbun, Prime Minister Abe said that there was no evidence of military abduction of "comfort women" in the documents that Japanese government investigated. He said that since Kono Statement in 1993 was not an official decision of the Cabinet it should be examined by experts.
But it is not easy to revise the statement because NY Times reports "American officials say they have urged Mr. Abe to shelve calls to revise the Kono Statement to avoid increasing tensions with South Korea". Although American government is neutral, many lawmakers endorse the Resolution 121 to blame the comfort women.
In fact Kono Statement did not apologize the military abduction of comfort women, but its ambiguous expression was interpreted as admission of guilt. We should sort out two problems. Historians' consensus is as follows:
- Military abduction: There is no document that shows Japanese Army coerced Korean women into brothels. Some women claimed that they were abducted by Army, but they were not supported by evidences. There is only one evidence of coercion in Indonesia, which was a court-martial offense and the criminal was executed.
- Human trafficking: There was human trafficking by private parties, as usual in the world of pre-war era. Kono Statement apologized that the Army sometimes helped the private coercion, but Japanese government refused legal resposibility for abduction.
So it is a necessary step to revise Kono Statement by removing ambiguous expression such as "in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments." This referred to the case in Indonesia, but Koreans mistook it as the admission in general.
When I covered Koreans in 1991 for NHK documentary, nobody claimed they were abducted by the Army. The wrong article of Asahi Shimbun fabricated the problem, which hurts Japanese-Korean relationship seriously. As Mr. Abe is much interested in this problem, it might be the last chance to correct the history.