Japan Probe has a good entry that digs up the transcript for the October statement I referred to twice previously. Abe was responding to questions from Shii Kazuo, the chair of the executive committee of the Japanese Communist Party, and insisted that his cabinet would follow the Kono Statement. Abe said his previous questioning of the statement centered around the issue of whether middle school students ought to be taught about the “comfort stations” and around the definition of “coercion.” Here’s a portion of what Abe said under Shii’s questioning:
Abe: My understanding at that time was that the Kono statement was intended to admit that the Japanese government was involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the recruitment of comfort women, express apologies and remorse for that, and promise to study in what way the government should express its apology and remorse. At the time, I questioned whether a junior high school textbook should include descriptions of military comfort women. For example, I thought it was necessary to first take into account the state of children’s development. I also thought it important to ascertain whether there was coercion in the narrow sense of the word. I said that if there are differences of opinion regarding the facts, we may have to reconsider including the material in the textbook.
I said that nothing substantiates the fact of coercion in the narrow sense of the word. When I discussed this issue, I pointed out that the name of YOSHIDA Seiji cited in textbooks as a person in charge of the recruitment of comfort women was later found to be a mistake. That was a question I raised in my statement. [Full transcript mirrored here.]
“It is a fact there was no proof to support coercion as it was initially defined”
“We must premise it [the kono statement about comfort women] on the thought that the definition of it [coercion] had been greatly changed from its [initial] definition”
The English language media (including my previous post, which was dashed off rather quickly) did not accurately represent the fact that Abe’s statement is hedged in language about the definition of coercion. It’s important to understand the subtleties of the rhetoric Abe is using when considering the domestic audience, but in international affairs, this sort of slight misquote is standard procedure. It may be that with slipping poll numbers, Abe finds it necessary to appeal to his long-time base: rightists and nationalists in the LDP.