On Feb. 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expanded the explanations of Japan’s position on the comfort women issue on its webpages focused on refuting claims that contradict [historical] facts. MOFA added explanations of such terms as the “forceful taking away [of comfort women]” and “sex slaves.” Japan-South Korea relations have grown chilly, with a South Korean district court ordering the Japanese government to compensate former comfort women. The aim of the expanded explanations on the MOFA website is to foster, both domestically and internationally, an accurate understanding of the comfort women issue. On Feb. 4, sources affiliated with the government revealed that MOFA had made these changes to its website.
MOFA expanded the explanations on its “History Issues Q&A” webpage. Prior to this month, the comfort women issue was presented in an abbreviated fashion, simply stating that there are claims not based on historical fact, such as those regarding the “forceful taking away [of comfort women]” and “sex slaves.” From Feb. 1, however, the webpage now takes up each term individually and explains the problems with it in detail.
Regarding the “forceful taking away [of comfort women],” the webpage now says, “‘Forceful taking away’ of comfort women by the Japanese military and government authorities could not be confirmed in any of the documents that the Government of Japan was able to identify.” Regarding the expression “sex slave,” the website states: “The expression ‘sex slaves’ contradicts the facts so it should not be used. This point was confirmed with the ROK at the occasion of the Japan-ROK Agreement in December 2015 and the expression ‘sex slaves’ is not used in the agreement.”
Regarding the number of comfort women, the webpage says: “The figure ‘200,000 persons’ lacks concrete evidence…. [N]o documents have been found which either indicate the total number or give sufficient ground to establish an estimate.”
The same explanations are also found on the MOFA’s webpage titled “Japan’s Efforts on the Issue of Comfort Women.” MOFA posted the information on the “Q&A” webpage as well so that it will be available to more viewers. The Liberal Democratic Party’s Foreign Affairs Division had also been calling for the explanation of these terms to be expanded.