Tokyo, Feb 12: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday said Japan has lodged a strong protest with South Korea over the National Assembly speaker's remark that the "comfort women" issue would be resolved with an apology from Emperor Akihito.
Speaking at the Lower House Budget Committee session, Abe said, "I was very surprised. It (the remark) contained blatantly inappropriate content, and we expressed a strong protest (to South Korea) and emphasized the fact that it was extremely regrettable."
Abe referred to an interview that National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang gave to a U.S. news wire service in which he said that the longstanding issue would be resolved if Akihito apologized directly to the women, who were forced to provide sex to Japanese military personnel before and during World War II, The Asahi Shimbun reported.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that a Foreign Ministry director-general submitted the protest to the South Korean government on Feb. 8 and that Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine further explained the government's disapproval the following day to the first vice minister at the South Korean Foreign Ministry.
Suga said that South Korean officials explained that Moon made the statement with the hope of improving bilateral relations as quickly as possible and that the report did not accurately reflect the National Assembly speaker's true intentions.
But Suga said neither an apology or retraction of the comment was made. (UNI)