Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stirred up a long-simmering dispute between his country and Korea with comments Tuesday about a Korean statue in honor of the so-called comfort women forced into sexual slavery during World War II.
The Sankei Shimbun on Tuesday reported that Noda at a session of the Diet told lawmakers that wording on the statue saying "comfort woman forced into sexual slavery" is "far from accurate." His comment came in response to a question by lawmaker Eriko Yamatani from the conservative Liberal Democratic Party.
The statue was set up in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and the legend reads, "This peace monument reflects people's genuine desire to learn from history and remember the past on the occasion of the 1,000th weekly protest against Japan's atrocities by comfort woman forced into sexual slavery."
Noda also stressed that he asked President Lee Myung-bak during a bilateral summit in December to remove the statue.
The Korean government and civic groups here want Japan to offer a sincere apology and compensation for forcing women into sexual slavery for its troops during the occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. But the Japanese government maintains that the women were not forced into sexual slavery but volunteered to make money, and that all compensation was settled under a 1965 treaty that normalized relations between the two countries.