Japan protests over ROK speaker's remarks about emperor
CGTN

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday demanded that the remarks made by the Republic of Korea's (ROK's) National Assembly speaker insisting that Emperor Akihito should apologize for the so-called "comfort women" issue be retracted.

"I was astonished. We've immediately conveyed through diplomatic channels that the remarks were extremely inappropriate and deplorable," Abe was quoted as telling a parliamentary committee on the matter.

The Japanese government has lodged a "stern protest" over the matter and demanded an apology, Abe told the committee.

Abe's comments were based on remarks made by ROK National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang to Bloomberg news service in an interview last week.

ROK National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang in Seoul, ROK, September 2018. /VCG Photo

ROK National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang in Seoul, ROK, September 2018. /VCG Photo

The "comfort women" issue refers to soldiers from the Imperial Japanese Army coercing and kidnapping girls and women and forcing them to work as sex slaves, servicing Japanese soldiers at military brothels during World War II.

Many of the women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese aggressors came from the Korean Peninsula, as well as from other parts of Asia, including China.

Euphemistically, these sex slaves have come to be known collectively as the "comfort women". 

Moon, in the interview, called Japan's Emperor Akihito "the son of the main culprit of war crimes," which was likely owing to the fact that Akihito's father was Emperor Hirohito who was in power before and during World War II.

People lay flowers at a farewell service in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to mourn the death of Kim Bok-dong, a symbolic ROK victim forced into sex slavery for Japan's military brothels during World War II, February 1, 2019. /VCG Photo

People lay flowers at a farewell service in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to mourn the death of Kim Bok-dong, a symbolic ROK victim forced into sex slavery for Japan's military brothels during World War II, February 1, 2019. /VCG Photo

Asked how Japan can mend its long-running dispute over wartime matters with the ROK, Moon was quoted as saying, "If a person like that (Akihito) holds the hands of the elderly former comfort women and says he's really sorry, then that one word will resolve matters once and for all."

While anger over the remarks have been fueled in Japan, Moon in further comments made on Monday underscored his stance, stating that an apology was necessary from "a leader in a responsible position in Japan," as reported by local media here. 

He also maintained that Japan's previous apologies over the "comfort women" issue have been insincere.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press briefing on the matter on Tuesday that Japan has been informed by the ROK government that the report did not reflect Moon's "true intentions" to improve bilateral relations.

(Cover: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 2nd L, attends a budget committee meeting of the House of Representatives in Tokyo, Japan, February 12, 2019. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency