There's a fascinating tiff brewing between Japanese and U.S. diplomats after Hillary Clinton reportedly corrected a State Department official who referred to women drafted into prostitution by the Japanese during World War II by the widely used term "comfort women," asking that the Department instead call it like it is and say "enforced sex slaves."
The State Department neither confirmed nor denied the report that the Secretary of State had corrected the State Department official, which allegedly happened at a closed-door meeting, first reported Monday by South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper. No wonder at their reticence. The treatment of many, many thousands of women abducted from their homes and forced to serve at "comfort stations" in other countries through the war remains a sore point between Japan and countries like South Korea, China, the Philippines, and others whose women were drafted. The U.S., the paper noted, historically "has avoided getting involved in the painful history dividing Korea and Japan."
Japan wasn't exactly happy to hear about the potential new terminology. Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told reporters Tuesday, "If that is confirmed, I will tell her that it is an incorrect expression and explain to her the steps that we have taken, including an apology by the prime minister and the creation of a fund to support women in Asia in order to help comfort women."