Rep. Honda urges Japan to apologize for 'comfort women'

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (Yonhap) -- The time has come for the Japanese government to address the issue of the nation's wartime atrocities against many Korean and other Asian women, a senior U.S. congressman said Thursday.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) urged Tokyo first to offer a formal apology to those who were forced into sexual servitude during World War II, euphemistically called "comfort women."

"It is time for the Japanese government to make a comprehensive apology and redress the grievances sought by the hundreds of thousands of women who were victimized under this cruel system," he said in a statement emailed to Yonhap News Agency.

He added, "For the women still alive, and for the countless who have passed, official recognition and acknowledgement is the only way to bring proper closure to this terrible chapter of World War II history.”

Honda, the grandson of Japanese immigrants, spearheaded an effort to include language on the matter into a spending bill for 2014 that passed the House Wednesday.

A document attached to the bill calls on the secretary of state to encourage the Japanese government to comply with a 2007 resolution on the matter.

The 2007 House Resolution 121, sponsored by Honda, calls on the Japanese government to deliver an apology for the sexual enslavement.

It is the first time that the comfort women issue has been included in U.S. legislation, although the related stipulation is nonbinding.

Honda said he "fought hard" to get the language in the bill as a member of the Appropriations Committee. He has been serving in Congress since 2001.

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