June 21, 2014 3:08 pm JST

U.S. official hopes Japan retains "comfort women" apology statement

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- A U.S. government spokeswoman expressed hope Friday that the Japanese government will stick to a 1993 apology on the issue of women who were forced to work at wartime Japanese military brothels.

     Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, took the position when asked to comment on the Japanese government's announcement that Japan and South Korea had worked closely on the wording of the statement on the "comfort women" issue.

     Psaki told reporters the Japanese statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono "marked an important chapter in improving relations with neighbors."

     "We take note" of last week's statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government will uphold the Kono statement, she said.

      The spokeswomen repeated her call on Japan and South Korea to work together to deal with the issue of comfort women, including those from the Korean Peninsula, and "put events of the past behind you."

      Abe's government made public the behind-the-scenes bilateral work with South Korea in drafting the Kono statement as a result of a fact-finding project aimed at re-examining the process of creating it.

      The statement said that the Japanese government extends "its sincere apologies and remorse" to all those who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

     Abe's government stirred controversy by saying it would review the process of how the statement was made but denied it intends to change the statement itself.