| The Burden of Saying Sorry

Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe drew international reproach recently for disputing that his country's military coerced young women into sexual enslavement during Japan's occupation of China and the Korean peninsula. The controversy also raised questions about the importance of saying sorry, a gesture that can smooth diplomatic waters but can also open the door to claims for legal compensation. Abe's remarks came shortly after U.S. Rep. Michael M. Honda (D-CA) proposed a bill in January demanding that Tokyo apologize and accept “historical responsibility” for the Japanese military's role in the abuse of “comfort women.” That is the term for the roughly 200,000 mostly Korean and Chinese women pressed into providing sex to Japanese soldiers during wartime.

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