November 28, 2007 / 8:48 PM / 12 years ago

Canada urges Japan apology for sex slaves

OTTAWA, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Canada’s Parliament on Wednesday formally called on Japan to apologize for forcing more than 200,000 women to work as sex slaves for its soldiers during World War Two.

Legislators unanimously backed a nonbinding motion urging Tokyo to offer a full, formal apology to the women.

Japan said it regretted the vote, which it said would not help bilateral relations.

The U.S. House of Representatives adopted a similar motion on the sex slaves — known euphemistically in Japan as "comfort women" — in late July.

In 1993, Japan acknowledged a state role in the wartime program, which mostly victimized Chinese and Korean women. But earlier this year some senior Japanese officials denied there was evidence the government or military were directly involved in procuring the women.

The Canadian motion was introduced by Olivia Chow, a legislator for the left-leaning New Democrats, who said Japan had yet to offer a proper apology to the women.

"I think we have a moral responsibility to speak out on this ... we need to let Canadians know about it," she said before the vote.

"A 15-year old was kidnapped, her shoulder was broken, the first day, she was raped by 11 Japanese men, she was a virgin at that time, she was bleeding nonstop."

Tokyo set up a fund in 1995 to provide compensation to former sex slaves. But many have refused to accept the money, saying the Japanese government itself should provide the compensation in recognition of its responsibility.

An official at Japan’s embassy in Tokyo said Canada’s Parliament should trust Tokyo’s handling of the matter.

"It certainly won’t help our bilateral issues. It is not comfortable for our government to have a third country like Canada intervene," he told Reuters before the vote. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Janet Guttsman)

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