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Compensation Sought for Sex Slaves

April 18, 2001

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Asian activists protesting outside Japan’s consulate called on the Japanese government to compensate women used as World War II sex slaves despite a recent court ruling absolving it from financial responsibility.

Historians say as many as 200,000 women _ mostly Koreans but also Filipinos, Chinese and Dutch _ were forced to provide sex for Japanese troops during the war. A Japanese appeals court last month overturned a 1998 ruling ordering the government to compensate the women, saying no serious constitutional violations had occurred.

Protesters from the Young Koreans United of Los Angeles joined a noisy demonstration of at least 200 people outside Japan’s consulate Tuesday.

``The recent court decision is a brutal slap in the face to the ‘comfort women,‴ Young Koreans’ spokeswoman Haena Cho said.

Screaming and waving hand-painted signs, protesters also denounced a middle school textbook, recently authorized by the Japanese government, which they believe glosses over Japanese war crimes.

Critics say the book is a whitewash of atrocities committed by Japan during its 1910-45 rule of the Korean Peninsula. Seoul recalled its Japanese envoy April 10 in protest and demonstrations have been triggered in Asia.

In response to protesters, Japan’s consulate released a copy of an April 3 statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda which said the government acted impartially when it authorized the book, ``New History and Civics Textbook.″

Fukuda also pointed to a 1995 statement by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama as proof the country has acknowledged and apologized for damage and suffering caused in the past.

Protesters delivered a letter addressed to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori demanding Japan fully disclose its war crimes and make reparations to victims.

But the demands could fall on deaf ears. Mori announced earlier this month he was stepping down as prime minister. Four ruling-party veterans are vying to replace him in a party leadership election scheduled for April 24.

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