Political parties criticize Asahi over ‘comfort women’ reporting
The Yomiuri Shimbun Following The Asahi Shimbun’s admission of mistakes in its reports on the so-called comfort women issue and partial retraction of some of the contents, calls for further corrective action have been heard from ruling and opposition parties alike.
However, the Democratic Party of Japan, which includes conservative and liberal lawmakers, remains indecisive in its response.
The Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party have refrained from making critical comments about The Asahi Shimbun.
DPJ President Banri Kaieda told reporters on Wednesday in Hiroshima, “I want to put the emphasis on how we can build relationships with Asian countries while looking toward the future.” Kaieda avoided making a direct comment on the issue, apparently out of consideration to liberal lawmakers in his party.
At a press conference on the day, however, DPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Jin Matsubara said: “The responsibility for negligence in allowing reports that are untrue and that have strengthened perceptions of Japanese culpability to linger for more than 30 years is enormous. We will strongly demand that [The Asahi Shimbun] make full disclosure that there was a factual error.”
Meanwhile, JCP secretariat head Yoshiki Yamashita told reporters, “It does not undermine at all the military’s involvement nor the veracity of the  statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono admitting [the recruitment of women] was forcible.”
Yamashita seems to have an opinion close to that of The Asahi Shimbun itself, which has admitted that testimony by a man about forcible recruitment of women was not true and has retracted the articles based on it, but which also insists that this is not at the core of the issue.
SDP leader Tadatomo Yoshida said the comfort women issue should not be trivialized.
Senior officials of many parties, however, made their criticisms clear.
New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi called for reports based on truth at a press conference on Wednesday, saying, “It is important to recognize objectively the historical facts.”
Liberal Democratic Party Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Tsutomu Sato pointed out the necessity for further investigation, saying: “Examining the issue on paper does not end the problem. Further investigation should be carried out.”
Secretary General Hiroshi Yamada of The Party for Future Generations said: “The Asahi’s article instilled strong emotional resentment in the people of South Korea. The Asahi’s sin is grave.”
His counterpart in the LDP, Shigeru Ishiba, said in a TV program on BS Fuji on Wednesday: “It is not that we will summon a person in charge [from The Asahi Shimbun] for condemnation. We will discuss properly in the Diet what the problem was. It is a natural thing to do.”
Ishiba dismissed the possibility of a review of the Kono statement, which expressed “remorse and apology” over the comfort women issue.