BRUSSELS: The European Parliament (EP) on Thursday approved a resolution on Justice for the "Comfort Women" - those forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army before and during World War II - and urged Tokyo to formally apologize and compensate the victims and their families.
The US House of Representatives as well as the Canadian and Dutch parliaments adopted similar motions in late July and November.
Records show that up to 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines and other Asian countries were enslaved by the Japanese military before and during the war. Many survivors have described their horrifying experiences.
However, the Japanese government has never fully accepted responsibility for their suffering or paid compensation.
At a session in Strasbourg, France, 57 Members of the European Parliament voted on the resolution, with 54 in favor and three abstentions.
The document calls on the Japanese government "to formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical and legal responsibility, in a clear and unequivocal manner, for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of young women into sexual slavery - known to the world as 'comfort women' - during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s until the end of World War II".
Author of the resolution Raul Romeva, a member of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance in the EP, urged Tokyo to comply with international law to do justice for the victims.
"We are talking about 200,000 women who were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army... Sixty-two years later, survivors are still waiting for justice to be done," Romeva told the parliament.
"Throughout their lives, they have suffered from mental and physical ill-health and extreme poverty," Romeva said.
He noted it is shocking that the Japanese government has neither complied with international law regarding reparation, compensation and rehabilitation to "satisfy their basic needs", nor formally apologized.
The resolution urges the Japanese government to implement effective administrative mechanisms to provide reparation to all surviving victims and the families of deceased victims.
It also urges the Japanese parliament (the Diet) to take legal measures "to remove existing obstacles to obtaining reparation before Japanese courts; in particular, the right of individuals to claim reparation from the government should be expressly recognized in national law, and cases for reparation for the survivors of sexual slavery - as a crime under international law - should be prioritized".
It asks "the government of Japan to refute publicly any claims that the subjugation and enslavement of 'comfort women' never occurred".
The resolution encourages the Japanese people and government to take steps to recognize the full history of their nation and foster awareness in the country of its military past in the 30s and 40s.