Q.What is the 1993 Kono Statement?

A.In response to the request to investigate the comfort women issue by a politician from an opposition party in the Budget committee of the House of Councilors in July 1990, the Director of the labor Department of Japan denied only legal responsibility of the Japanese government on the ground that the recruitment of comfort women was done by private contractors. In August, 1991, Haksun Kim testified to her past as a comfort women and filed a suit against the Japanese government in December of the same year. On January 11, 1992, Professor Yoshiaki Yoshimi at Chuo University unveiled the documents from the library of the Defence Research Institute of the Defence Agency which prove the Japanese Military was directly involved in recruiting comfort women for Japanese soldiers. On January 12, 1992, Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Kato admitted the direct involvement of the Japanese Military and he delivered a statement of apology on the next day. On January 17, 1992, during the summit between Korea and Japan, then-Prime Minister Miyazawa gave an official apology with regard to the comfort women issue and said that the government would conduct an investigation and announce the result.

The Japanese government announced its progress reports on the issue in July, 1992 and August, 1993. As the government disclosed the data found in various source (i.e. in the Defence Agency, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, the National Archives, the Library of the Diet and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono delivered the following statement; Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the Result of the Study on the Issue of “comfort Women”(“Kono Statement” 4 August 1993 The Government of Japan has been conducting a study on the issue of wartime “comfort women”since December 1991. I wish to announce the findings as a result of that study. As a result of the study which indicates that comfort stations were operated in extensive areas for long periods, it is apparent that there existed a great number of comfort women. comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military authorities of the day.

The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women. The recruitment of the comfort women was conducted mainly by private recruiters who acted in response to there quest of the military. The Government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments. They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere. As to the origin of those comfort women who were transferred to the war areas, excluding those from Japan, those from the Korean Peninsula accounted for a large part. The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese rule in those days, and their recruitment, transfer, control, etc. were conducted generally against their will, through coaxing, coercion, etc. 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. It is incumbent upon us, the Government of Japan, to continue to consider seriously, while listening to the views of learned circles, how best we can express this sentiment. We shall faces squarely the historical facts as described above instead of evading them, and take them to heart as lessons of history. We hereby reiterated our firm determination never to repeat the same mistake by forever engraving such issues in our memories through the study and teaching of history. As actions have been brought to court in Japan and interests have been shown in this issue outside Japan, the Government of Japan shall continue to pay full attention to this matter, including private researched related thereto.