The US House of Representatives Monday rebuked US ally Japan and called for an apology for the sexual slavery inflicted by its wartime military on 200,000 Asian "comfort women."
In a resolution passed by a voice vote, lawmakers called on the Tokyo government to make an "unambiguous apology" for the coercion of women into army brothels during the 1930s and World War II.
The Japanese government has insisted it has already apologized for the treatment of the women and given no sign that it intends to do so again.
Backers of the resolution immediately hailed it as sending an important message to Japan about the need to make further amends on an episode that still scars, generations after the war.
House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House made a "strong statement in support of human rights.
"More than 50 years later, the Japanese government has still not issued a clear apology to the "these women.'" she said.
"This is disappointing because Japan is a critical ally of the United States and a leading international voice on issues such as global warming and assistance to the poorest people in the world."
"Although the violence against the "comfort women' occurred many years ago, their wounds have yet to heal."
Amnesty International said the vote showed that justice was long overdue for the women, only a few hundred of whom are still alive.
"This resolution also sends a powerful message to the survivors, who have combated a lifetime of hardship and stigma, and who still bear the terrible scars from the sexual slavery — that their plight is not forgotten." said Dr. Purna Sen, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific Program Director.
The measure says the "government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as "comfort women.'"
It calls on the Japanese prime minister to make a public apology, urges the government to refute any claims that the episode never happened and wants future generations to be told of "this horrible crime."
Earlier this month, Japanese conservative activists protested the House measure, saying the women were not slaves but just making money in a business practice.
Lawmakers, academics and journalists gave the US embassy in Tokyo a protest letter saying they were "surprised and shocked" by pressure from US lawmakers for a fresh apology to so-called "comfort women."
Last Mod: 31 Temmuz 2007, 09:42