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No evidence of military coercion of "comfort women": Japan gov't

Japan has found no documents confirming the so-called comfort women were forcefully recruited by military or government authorities, a Japanese envoy told a U.N. panel Tuesday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama said that during a session in Geneva of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

The belief that women were forced into sexual servitude is based on the false accounts of the late Seiji Yoshida, the Japanese envoy indicated.

Yoshida claimed to have forcibly taken women from the island of Jeju, then under Japanese colonial rule and now part of South Korea, and forced them into sexual labor for the Japanese military before and during World War II.

The Asahi Shimbun in 2014 retracted articles that reported Yoshida's accounts, Sugiyama noted.

Sugiyama also explained to the U.N. committee the historic Japan-South Korean accord reached last December to "finally and irreversibly" resolve the protracted dispute over comfort women issue.

At the outset of his statement at the U.N. panel, Sugiyama said Japan will take a lead to make the 21st century a period when women's human rights are not violated.

Japan last month sent to the panel its answers to 22 questions, in which Tokyo said no coercion has been confirmed. In January, South Korea refuted that claim, calling the coercion a historic fact.

The panel is tasked with monitoring nations' compliance with the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It is scheduled to issue on March 7 its findings regarding Japan and other nations under review. (Feb. 16, 2016)