Tokyo: A group of war victims claiming they were forced to provide sex for Japan's Imperial army during World War II gathered in front of Tokyo's House of Councillors on Tuesday asking for an official apology from the Japanese government.
Following the International Solidarity Conference which was held in Tokyo for the victims of the Japanese military sex slavery, victims and their supporters joined to demand the Japanese government to urgently resolve the issue of the so-called "comfort women".
During the second World War Japan's military seized thousands of women from Korea, China, the Philippines and other places and shipped them across Asia to provide sex for their troops. In 1990s Japan acknowledged that its military set up and ran brothels for its troops. But it has rejected most compensation claims, saying they were settled by post-war treaties.
The victims spoke on Tuesday in front of the House of Councillors building of their anger, shame and defiance, and of the physical and mental scars that remain.
Supporters of the resolution want an apology similar to the one the US government gave to Japanese-Americans forced into internment camps during World War II.
Japan objects to the resolution, and claims it has taken steps to deal with the issue, referring to the apologetic comments made by Former Prime Minister Koizumi in 2001 and other prime ministers.
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also said there was no evidence of coercion by Japan's wartime government in using Asian women as sex slaves, backtracking from the nation's earlier acknowledgment that the practice went on, and hinting at the possibility of downgrading the landmark 1995 apology.
Tokyo has generally refused to pay damages to individuals for the war, and says the issue was settled between governments in post-war treaties.
Japanese courts have rejected a number of lawsuits brought by former sex slaves.
The number of victims still alive is decreasing.