The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution yesterday urging Japan to officially apologize to the thousands of women — known as “comfort women” — who were forced to work as sex slaves during World War II. The Foreign Affairs Committee approved the nonbinding resolution by a 39-2 vote, allowing the measure to continue on to a full House vote.
Representative Michael Honda (D-CA) introduced the legislation, advocating for Japan to take responsibility in “a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery,” the New York Times reports. Other supporters include the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA); Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); and over 140 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. In a statement, Pelosi said she hoped the passing of the resolution would send “a strong message that we will not forget the horrors endured by the comfort women.”
Officials in the Japanese government have rebuffed US efforts pushing for a formal apology. In March, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed that no evidence existed to prove that women were coerced into sex slavery. Under international criticism, he later rescinded his comments and offered his sympathy for the victims.