Kono Statement (1993)

Kono Statement (慰安婦関係調査結果発表に関する河野内閣官房長官談話) is a 1993 statement by the Cabinet Minister Yohei Kono (河野洋平) which is widely seen as a formal admission by the Japanese government of the role Japanese government played in the recruitment, transfer, and control of comfort women during the WWII. Comfort women deniers have since been calling for the retraction or backtracking of the statement or delegitimizing it by dismissing it merely as a personal opinion of Kono himself or a political compromise lacking any actual evidence.

In particular, comfort women deniers criticize Kono Statement for “falsely” acknowledging the direct involvement of the Japanese military in the forcible recruitment and kidnapping of women for use in the military comfort stations. Japanese government has backtracked on this portion, explaining that it was in reference to a specific case of the military discipline breakdown, and not applicable to the recruitment of comfort women in general.

Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs parrots Kono Statement as the evidence that Japan has already taken responsibility for its role in the abuse of women under the military comfort women system, such as in response to the proposal in San Francisco to establish a memorial dedicated to comfort women, the wording of the statement leaves ambiguous what responsibility the Japanese government is acknowledging, especially it backtracked on the part that addresses the direct involvement of the Japanese military in the forcible recruitment and kidnapping of women.

In February 2014, Deputy Cabinet Minister under Kono at the time the statement was released told the parliament that the administration at the time did not verify testimonies of comfort women surveyed by the South Korean government, and it was “possible” that South Korean government was involved in the drafting of the statement. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered an investigation into the process behind the release of Kono Statement and released a report in June of that year, which was seen as a way to delegitimize and backtrack Kono Statement while avoiding diplomatically costly retraction.

Link: Kono Statement (unofficial translation)

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