The issue is an explosive one both in Japan and South Korea, The New York Times reported. Many Japanese conservatives, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, deny that Korean and Dutch women were forced to be "comfort women" for the Imperial Army while South Korea is still seeking financial compensation for the victimized women.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said it would be "desirable for experts and historians to study" the 1993 apology. He said Abe will uphold a broader 1995 apology on the 50th anniversary of Japan's surrender to victims of the war.
Abe avoided talking about the 1993 apology during parliamentary elections that brought his Liberal Democrats back to power. Most Japanese voters appear to be more concerned about maintaining a good relationship with South Korea.
Outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited a group of islands both countries claim last year in a gesture aimed at Japan's refusal to pay compensation. His successor, Park Geun-hye, attended U.S. congressional hearings on the comfort women in 2007.
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