Ex-PM Murayama seeks Japan-S. Korea summit to resolve sex slavery issue

Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on Friday called on Japan and South Korea to hold summit talks to resolve the issue of wartime sex slavery that has deteriorated bilateral ties.

"There is no way to resolve the issue unless the leaders have candid talks based on the current situation," Murayama told a meeting in Seoul hosted by the South Korean government-backed Northeast Asian History Foundation. Many women who were forced to work at wartime Japanese military brothels were from the Korean Peninsula.

Murayama, 90, who is best known for issuing a 1995 statement apologizing for Japan's wartime colonial rule and aggression against its Asian neighbors, said the Japanese government should feel responsibility for the sexual servitude issue and settle the problem as a state.

"Based on past background, the state should reflect on the issue with a sense of responsibility and try to make a breakthrough as state responsibility to settle the matter," said the member of the Social Democratic Party.

A 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the issue of women forced into sex slavery, euphemistically known as "comfort women" in Japan, acknowledged the Japanese military's responsibility over the forced recruitment of women and apologized to the victims.

But Tokyo does not acknowledge state responsibility as demanded by South Korea.