Embassy of Japan in Canada （日本国驻加拿大大使馆）
The Comfort Women Issue
(The position of the Government of Japan)
Japan has squarely faced the comfort women issue by acknowledging that the actions referred to severely injured the honor and dignity of many women and by extending official apologies for those actions on a number of occasions: → More Details
– Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s statement in 1993
– Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s statement in 1994
– Letters from Prime Ministers to Each Former Comfort Woman
The Government of Japan and the Japanese people have taken the concrete measures to compensate the victims through the Asian Women’s Fund. → More Details
The Japanese Parliament passed resolutions in 1995 and 2005, which show apology for war-time victims. → More Details
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has positively acknowledged the apologies expressed by the Government of Japan and the Japanese leaders in his speech “For Friendship and Cooperation” delivered in the Japanese Parliament on April 12. → More Details
Prime Minister Fukuda outlined to Canadian Prime Minister Harper the initiatives and measures undertaken by the Government of Japan on the issue of ‘comfort women’ during the teleconference on November 16, 2007. He assured that he stands by previous statements issued by the Government of Japan on this matter.. → More Details
Nine out of ten Japanese history textbooks refer to the comfort women issue. English translation of each textbook is available on the following website. → More Details
The Comfort Women Issue (Fact Sheet)
1. The Government of Japan has extended official apologies to all comfort women on many important occasions.
(1) The Chief Cabinet Secretary’s Statement in 1993
Then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued a statement which publicly and officially expressed Japan’s apology to all comfort women, after the completion of a comprehensive and thorough government study on this issue. The statement says:
“Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.”
* The Chief Cabinet Secretary is generally considered the second most influential position in the Cabinet after that of the Prime Minister.
(2) Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s Statement in 1994
In 1994, Prime Minister Murayama set forth Japan’s policy framework for making the approaching 50th anniversary of the end of World War II significant. His statement, made on August 31, 1994, articulated Japan’s remorse and apology to former comfort women. It also addressed the measures that the Government of Japan would take for other victims through the establishment of the Asian Women’s Fund. The statement says:
“On the issue of wartime “comfort women”, which seriously stained the honor and dignity of many women, I would like to take this opportunity once again to express my profound and sincere remorse and apologies”
(3) Letters from Prime Ministers to Each Former Comfort Woman
Successive former prime ministers since 1996 (Hashimoto, Obuchi, Mori and Koizumi) have issued letters of apology to each individual former comfort woman who was willing to accept the letter along with the atonement money offered by the Asian Women’s Fund. The letters were made public afterwards and are available on the Japanese government website. These letters, addressed to former comfort women, were issued by the prime ministers in their official capacity. The letters say:
“As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.”
“I believe that our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it to future generations”.
2. The Government of Japan and the Japanese people have taken the following concrete measures for the victims.
The Asian Women’s Fund was established in 1995 for the Government of Japan and the Japanese people to make atonement to former comfort women. The government made the greatest contribution to the fund, although Japan was not legally obliged to provide financial compensation. The issue of compensation has been settled by international agreements including the San Francisco Peace Treaty and relevant treaties with Asian countries.
The government’s contribution (total of approximately CDN $48 million) financed the operations and programs. Private donations largely financed the atonement money. The fund offered the atonement money to 285 former comfort women (2 million yen (approx. CDN $20,000) per person; total of CDN $5.7 million) along with letters of apology from prime ministers, and social welfare projects in the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, the Netherlands and Indonesia (total of approx. CDN $11 million).
3. The Japanese Parliament passed resolutions in 1995 and 2005, which express apology to the wartime victims.
The Japanese Parliament debated and passed formal resolutions in 1995 and 2005 (the 50th and the 60th anniversaries of the end of World War II) related to the comfort women issue and Japan’s actions in World War II. The 1995 Resolution says:
“Solemnly reflecting upon the many instances of colonial rule and acts of aggression that occurred in modern world history, and recognizing that Japan carried out such acts in the past and inflicted suffering on the people of other countries, especially in Asia, the Members of this House hereby express deep remorse.” (Resolution of the House of Representatives adopted on June 9, 1995)
4. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has positively acknowledged the apologies expressed by the Government of Japan and Japanese leaders.
Premier Wen of the People’s Republic of China made an official visit to Japan from April 11 to 13, 2007. Premier Wen and Prime Minister Abe discussed, in addition to historical issues, concrete issues for cooperation in wide-ranging fields.
Following the meeting of Premier Wen and Prime Minister Abe, the Japan-China Joint Press Statement was announced. In the Statement, both sides confirmed “the two countries resolved to face history squarely, advance toward the future, and jointly unveil a beautiful future for bilateral relations.” Also both governments reaffirmed that “the two countries would strive to build a ‘mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests’, and achieve the noble objectives of peaceful co-existence, friendship for generations, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development.”
Premier Wen delivered an address to the Japanese Parliament on April 12 and positively acknowledged the apologies expressed by the Government of Japan and Japanese leaders on war-related issues.
“…the Japanese government and Japanese leaders have on many occasions openly acknowledged Japan’s invasions and expressed deep remorse and apologies to countries which became victims of the invasions. The Chinese government and its people positively acknowledge this.” (Unofficial translation)
5. Prime Minister Fukuda focuses on cooperation with Asian countries.
On September 25, 2007, the Diet (Japanese parliament) designated former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda as prime minister to succeed Shizo Abe. Prime Minister Fukuda focuses on development of strengthened relationship with Asian countries and hopes to build close relationship with Asian counties to cooperate for peace, security and development of Asia.
Prior to the designation, at the press conference held on September 19, Mr. Fukuda reaffirmed to stand by the statement that then-Prime Minister Murayama made on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the war’s end in 1995. In the statement, then-Prime Minister Murayama expressed that “In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology.”
(1) Prime Minister Fukuda’s Policy Statement
Prime Minister Fukuda delivered an opening policy speech at the Diet on October 1.
“With China, we will establish a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests, and work together to contribute to the peace and stability in Asia. With South Korea, we will further strengthen a future-oriented relationship of trust. With the ASEAN and other counties, we will promote our endeavors, such as economic partnerships, toward future strengthening of our relationships.”
(2) Prime Minister Fukuda’s telephone conference with Chinese Premier Wen
Prime Minister Fukuda had a telephone conference with Chinese Premier Wen on September 28, 2007. Prime Minister Fukuda told Premier Wen that Japan-China relation is one of the most important bilateral relations and Japan places a high value on development of relationship with China. He also stated that he would like to cooperate closely with China for peace, stability and development of Asia.
Premier Wen stated that China also respects China-Japan relationship and endorses long and stable friendship. He also expressed his willingness to promote new and unceasing progress of China-Japan relationship.
(3) Prime Minister Fukuda’s telephone conference with Canadian Prime Minister Harper
Prime Minister Fukuda spoke by telephone with Canadian Prime Minister Harper on November 16, 2007. He outlined to Mr. Harper the initiatives and measures, including apologies and compensation, undertaken by the Government of Japan on the issue of ‘comfort women.’ He said that he stands by previous statements issued by the Government of Japan on this matter. He concluded by noting that Japan would like to continue developing mutually beneficial relationships and work together with its neighbors for peace, stability and development in Asia
6. Japanese history textbooks refer to the comfort women issue.
Nine out of ten Japanese history textbooks which passed the textbook examination procedure in 2006 refer to the comfort women issue. The examination procedure is undertaken to ensure that the textbooks are objective and impartial and incorporate adequate educational considerations. Following the examination procedure, the Ministry of Education makes a decision whether to approve a textbook. The final decision on which books to use is made by local boards of education in the case of public schools or schools themselves in the case of private institutions.
Further is available on the following website.
English translation of each textbook is available on the following website.