At a time when senior defense officials from Tokyo and Seoul began discussing the dispute over Japan’s use of sex slaves during World War II, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe showed his intention to change the Kono Statement, arguing “There is no evidence that women were forced to work in Japanese military brothels.”
On April 17, an American weekly news magazine TIME released “The Patriot: Shinzo Abe Speaks to TIME,” the cover story for the April 28, 2014 issue.
In response to a question on the 1993 Kono Statement that admitted the Japanese wartime sexual slavery, Abe said "During my first administration in 2007, the cabinet gave an answer to a question from Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a member of the Democratic Party, stating no official documents indicated that the Japanese government or military authorities were involved in forceful mobilization of sexual slaves. However, neither Japanese nor global citizens knew about this. Throughout my election campaigns, I said that the Kono Statement and my cabinet’s decision in 2007 should be considered together. Nevertheless, we are not thinking of revising the Kono Statement.”
The Abe administration has denied comfort women were coerced despite the National Archives’ disclosure of official records on comfort women including a verdict by the Batavia Military Tribunal. The tribunal was created to hold Class B and C trials for Japanese military officials who forced 35 women from the Netherlands and incarcerated them in comfort stations built in 1944 in Batavia, today’s Jakarta on the island of Java.
Regarding his visit to the controversial Ysukuni Shrine last December, Abe said “I paid a visit to pay tribute to the souls of those who had fought and sacrificed for the country. I made a pledge to build a world that is free from the sufferings of the devastation of war and never to start a war.”
On the need to amend the pacifist constitution, he commented “For a long time, we have thought that the constitution should never be changed. But now, we should revise it. The U.S. has amended its constitution six times, while Japan has done it zero times.”
He added "I am a patriot. Since I am a politician, I often get criticized when I try to do what I believe is right. If you mind such criticism, however, you can’t protect people’s lives.“
On his maternal grandfather Nobusuke Kishi who was locked up as “Class A” war criminal during WWII and became Prime Minister in the late 1950s, he corrected “My grandfather was arrested but not prosecuted.”