Abe addresses Congress without apology as protests continue

April 29, 2015
Protestors calling for an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on wartime history gathered at Capitol Hill Tuesday.

Protestors calling for an apology from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on wartime history gathered at Capitol Hill Tuesday.

By Tae Hong

The heat on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to issue a personal apology for Japan’s wartime history continued Wednesday as he spoke to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, the first Japanese leader to do so.

“Our actions brought suffering to the peoples in Asian countries,” Abe said during his address. “We must not avert our eyes from that. I will upload the views expressed by the previous prime ministers in this regard.”

Former comfort woman Lee Yong-soo, 87, spoke to a group of protestors outside Capitol Hill Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Former comfort woman Lee Yong-soo, 87, spoke to a group of protestors outside Capitol Hill Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Abe’s visit to the U.S. has been marked by controversy stemming from Japan’s refusal to acknowledge its wartime history, especially those concerning its soldiers’ use of sexual slaves, or comfort women, during World War II. Women were taken from several countries, most prominently Korea, China and the Philippines.

Korean American organizations across the nation gathered to protest the address and to call for Abe’s apology.

On Tuesday, about 200 protestors gathered in front of the Capitol, according to Yonhap. Among them was former Korean comfort woman Lee Yong-soo, 87, who said she was taken at age 15 to a kamikaze unit in Taiwan by Japanese soldiers.

“Prime Minister Abe needs to stop whitewashing history and accept it clearly, and he needs to sincerely apologize to the comfort women,” said Ham Eun-sun, a protest leader.

In Los Angeles, the Korean American Federation discussed plans with several organization leaders to hold a silent protest during Abe’s visit to the city May 1. The prime minister is scheduled to meet with Mayor Eric Garcetti.

In San Francisco Tuesday, about 300 protestors from the Asian American community, many of them Korean and Chinese, took to the Japanese Consulate to request for Abe’s apology.

Still, it did not come Wednesday.

During his speech to Congress, Abe said he visited the National World War II Memorial.

“History is harsh. What’s done cannot be undone. With deep repentance in my heart, I stood there in silent prayers for some time,” he said.

Korean American organization leaders in Los Angeles gathered at the Korean American Federation to discuss the silent protest against Japanese PM Shinzo Abe during his visit May 1. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

Korean American organization leaders in Los Angeles gathered at the Korean American Federation to discuss the silent protest against Japanese PM Shinzo Abe during his visit May 1. (Park Sang-hyuk/Korea Times)

Lotus Gan, left, and Yize Chen yell with other Chinese American and Korean American protesters as they hold up a photo of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a rally outside of the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 28, 2015. Hundreds of people protested outside the Japanese Consulate Tuesday, calling on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to apologize for his country’s atrocities toward other Asian countries during World War II. The protest came as Abe met with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., ahead of the prime minister's three-day visit to California this week. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Lotus Gan, left, and Yize Chen yell with other Chinese American and Korean American protesters as they hold up a photo of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a rally outside of the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

One Comment

  1. Chao Kuo-chang

    April 30, 2015 at 2:09 AM

    After observing Abe for sometime, I did not expect him to apologize for
    the Imperialist Japan’s atrocious crimes, incl. forcing thousands of young,innocent women into sexual slavery for years during World War II.
    Only truly honorable and responsible persons apologize even for their
    minor misdemeanors,such as an inappropriate word they may have used inadvertently. These respectable people never fail to express sincere
    apologies for the crimes perpetrated by those of their parents’ generations. Mr Willy Brandt is a shining example.

    Why should we expect a man like Shinzo Abe to be a venerable and dignified leader like Mr Willy Brandt? He can NEVER be one!

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