U.S. lawmakers are formally calling on their government to pay more attention to the so-called "comfort women," or women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the Second World War.
In a document attached to a spending bill for 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives makes note of a 2007 resolution on the "comfort women" issue and "urges the Secretary of State to encourage the Government of Japan to address the issues raised in the resolution."
The 2007 resolution calls on the Japanese government to issue an official apology for its wartime sexual enslavement of women.
An estimated 200-thousand women, mostly Korean, were used as sex slaves by the Japanese army in the early 20th century and many are still waiting for an apology from Tokyo although time is running out for the aging victims.
The bill passed on Wednesday is not legally binding, but is highly symbolic of Washington's efforts to address the matter.
It marks the first time the "comfort women" issue has been included in U.S. legislation and is sure to ramp up pressure on the Japanese government.
Korea's Foreign Ministry welcomed the bill and reiterated its calls on the Japanese government to apologize for its wartime crimes.
"The Japanese government must humbly admit the universal crime of violating women's human rights that were committed during its imperial period and resolve the issue. I once again strongly urge the Japanese government to do so."
"Although the bill still requires Senate approval and a signature from President Barack Obama, Seoul's foreign ministry said the bill is a sign that the comfort women matter is no longer a regional issue, but a global one.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News."
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