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Suga: Japan Won't Revise Wartime Brothel Apology

FILE - Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo.
Japan will not revise a landmark 1993 apology to women, many Korean, who were forced to serve in wartime military brothels nor will it issue a new statement on the matter, Japan's top government spokesman said on Monday.

"[The government] will examine the statement, but we will not revise it," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

He also denied the possibility of a new government statement on "comfort women" as suggested by Koichi Hagiuda, a close aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, over the weekend.

Kyodo news agency and other Japanese media reported over the weekend that Hagiuda had suggested Japan could issue a new statement on comfort women if a review of the procedures that led to the government's apology uncovered new facts.

Earlier this month, Abe said that his government would not revise the apology, issued by then-chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono, which recognized the involvement of Japanese authorities in coercing the women to work in the military brothels - a point many conservative Japanese dispute.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye expressed relief over Abe's remarks, and the two leaders are now set to join President Barack Obama in a three-way summit on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in The Hague starting on Monday.

Washington has been pressing its allies in Tokyo and Seoul to improve ties, strained by South Korea's bitter memories of Japan's 1910-1945 colonization of the peninsula and a territorial row over tiny South Korea-controlled islands.

Japan has been sending confusing messages about the Kono Statement, saying it will review the circumstances behind the apology but will not revise the statement itself.