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“Comfort Women” and Forced Laborers in Japan

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Continuing with our focus on Japan today, we'll now look at the issue of forced labor and so-called “comfort women” during World War II.

Last month, Japan 's Supreme Court rejected compensation claims for former sex slaves and forced laborers from China . The Court did acknowledge, however, that sex slavery and forced labor did occur during World War II.

The government of Japan had up until recently claimed that there was no evidence that the Japanese military had forced women into sex slavery.

Norma Field is a professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago .

On the day of the Supreme Court ruling, President Bush and Japanese Prime minister Abe held a press conference.

There, Abe said:

I do have deep-hearted sympathies that my people had to serve as comfort women, were placed in extreme hardships, and had to suffer that sacrifice; and that I, as Prime Minister of Japan, expressed my apologizes, and also expressed my apologizes for the fact that they were placed in that sort of circumstance.

To which Bush replied:

The comfort women issue is a regrettable chapter in the history of the world, and I accept the Prime Minister's apology. I thought it was very -- I thought his statements -- Kono's statement, as well as statements here in the United States were very straightforward and from his heart.

Jerome asked Norma Field what she made of this exchange at the press conference.

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