WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Congressman Michael Honda (CA-17) has sent a letter to Japanese Ambassador Sasae regarding the Comfort Women issue, an issue he hopes to have addressed during the official visit of the new Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
President Barack Obama will welcome the Prime Minister Abe to the White House on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. According to a White House news release, the President looks forward to in-depth discussions on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues, including the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance, economic and trade issues, and deepening bilateral cooperation.
Honda’s letter was sent earlier this week via the Japanese Ambassador to the United States. It addresses the estimated 400,000 or more (20,000 by Japanese history texts) non-Japanese women sold or kidnapped into prostitution for soldiers in countries occupied by the Imperial Army during World War II. The issue has long been sore spot of official relations with nations since the war’s end.
“While I congratulate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his recent election and look forward to his upcoming visit to the U.S., we cannot afford the time for revisions or retractions of past statements,” Honda said in the letter. “Indeed, nothing is more important right now than for a democratic country like Japan to formally acknowledge and unequivocally apologize for its systematic atrocity.”
In the letter, Honda referenced his own experience as someone who was put into an internment camp as an infant during World War II. Honda said he understands first hand how reconciliation through government actions, which includes admitting error, are the only ones likely to be long lasting. Government is a living, breathing organism that is responsible for its past, present and future, he added.
“In order to move toward a more peaceful, global world, Japan must accept responsibility and apologize,” Honda said. “The grandmothers – those survivors of physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetuated by Japan’s Imperial Army – are still waiting for an appropriate apology.”
President Obama held a call with Prime Minister Abe prior to the visit. The comfort women issue was not raised in the discussion.
According to a news release, the two leaders discussed North Korea’s nuclear test and to consult on steps to respond to this highly provocative violation of North Korea’s international obligations. They pledged to work closely together to seek significant action at the United Nations Security Council and to cooperate on measures aimed at impeding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
President Obama reaffirmed that the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to Japan, including the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella.