[JURIST] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [official website, in Japanese; BBC profile] expressed his sympathy and apologized Monday for the "situation" faced by so-called Korean and Chinese "comfort women" [Amnesty backgrounder] who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II. Abe stopped short of explicitly acknowledging the alleged roles of the wartime military and government in Japan [JURIST news archive] in facilitating the practice. Until this point, Abe has been one of a number of politicians pushing for the government to revisit an official apology [text] issued to victims in 1993 that was never ratified by the Japanese parliament.
Earlier this month, Abe denied allegations of forced sexual slavery [JURIST report] in Imperial Japanese Army [Wikipedia backgrounder] brothels, saying instead that the women were professional prostitutes paid for their services. A Japanese government probe this month also denied finding any evidence of forced prostitution [JURIST report]. AP has more.