[JURIST] The government of Japan [JURIST archive] said Friday in two statements [1, 2 - text, in Japanese] that it accepted the 1948 rulings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East [Wikipedia backgrounder] that found Japanese soldiers had coerced women into prostitution, possibly signalling a new course on the sensitive subject of "comfort women" [Amnesty backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The government also said that it stood by Japan's unratified 1993 admission and apology [text, in English] for using women in occupied territories in Japanese army brothels. The statement came in response to an official inquiry [text, in Japanese] by opposition House of Representatives member Kiyomi Tsujimoto [Wikipedia profile], asking the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to clarify its position on the subject.
Last 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 also denied finding any evidence of forced prostitution [JURIST report]. After a large public backlash, Abe issued a guarded apology [JURIST report] to comfort women, but stopped short of explicitly acknowledging the role played by the military and the government in facilitating the practice. Xinhua has more. Kyodo has additional coverage.