Taipei, Dec. 29 (CNA) Taiwan again asked Japan on Tuesday to issue an apology to Taiwanese women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial military during World War II, known euphemistically as "comfort women," and offer them compensation.
"The Republic of China government has always said that Japan should apologize to Taiwanese comfort women and offer compensation to them," President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said Tuesday at a ceremony to promote military officers, adding that the stance has never changed.
Later in the day, the president asked Taiwan's representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) to conduct immediate negotiations with the Japanese government and demand that Japan give Taiwanese comfort women the same treatment Tokyo offered South Korean victims, Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信) said.
Ma's appeal came a day after Japan and South Korea reached a deal in Seoul under which Japan agreed to apologize for the behavior and give around 1 billion Japanese yen to a foundation set up by the South Korean government for "comfort women."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued the apology to the comfort women later Monday in his capacity as prime minister.
Chen said President Ma has expressed concern about the issue since serving as justice minister two decades ago.
Since taking office in May 2008, Ma has also paid five visits to some of the surviving Taiwanese comfort women and held three meetings with them at the Presidential Office, Chen added.
Ma said at the promotion ceremony that he previously expressed the hope in August that Tokyo would "do more and do better" in dealing with its World War II legacy, especially on the issue of "comfort women," after Abe expressed remorse for Japan's wartime aggression in a talk marking the 70th anniversary of the war's end.
Soon after news of the deal surfaced on Monday, Taiwan asked Japan to respond positively to Taiwan's demands over the comfort women issue.
Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said at a separate news conference on Tuesday that Taiwan's representative office will continue to negotiate with the Japanese government over the issue.
Taiwan will also watch closely the developments following the Japan-South Korea deal, he said.
In 1992, Taiwan's government set up a cross-agency task force to tackle comfort women-related issues, and Lin hoped the task force could meet again to present clear parameters of Taiwan's appeal, including a method of compensation that would be acceptable.
According to the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, which has been dedicated to helping Taiwanese comfort women, around 2,000 Taiwanese women were forced into becoming sex slaves during World War II.
A total of 58 have come forward to ask for compensation and demand a formal apology from Japan, and only four of them are still alive, it said.
Despite the foundation's repeated calls for an apology and compensation for the comfort women in their annual protests in previous years, Japan has never given them a positive response.
With the assistance of the foundation, a group of Taiwanese comfort women filed a lawsuit in Tokyo against the Japanese government, but they lost the suit in 2005.
(By Lu Hsin-hui, Tai Ya-chen, Lee Shu-hua and Elaine Hou)ENDITEM/ls