The contents of the letter of the then Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto sent to the Netherlands Prime Minister Willem Kok on July 15, 1998

The Government of Japan, painfully aware of its moral responsibility concerning the issue of so called "wartime comfort women," has been sincerely addressing this issue in close cooperation with the Asian Women's Fund which implements the projects to express the national atonement on this issue.

Recognizing that the issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women, I would like to convey to Your Excellency my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

After a series of talks among the parties concerned to crystallize such feelings of the Japanese people, an agreement has been reached that the Asian Women's Fund will provide financial assistance for the newly established Project Implementation Committee in the Netherlands which will implement the Project to provide goods and/or services in the medical and welfare fields for those who experienced the difficulties during the war concerning the comfort women issue.

I will be grateful if the Government of the Netherlands provides warm understanding and support to this Project of the Asian Women's Fund which embodies the sincere feelings of the Japanese people.

By the Statement of Prime Minister in 1995, the Government of Japan renewed the feelings of deep remorse and the heartfelt apology for tremendous damage and suffering caused by Japan to the people of many countries including the Netherlands during a certain period in the past. My cabinet has not modified this position at all, and I myself laid a wreath to the Indisch Monument with these feelings on the occasion of my visit to the Netherlands in June last year.

In view of further promoting mutual understanding between our two countries, the Government of Japan is extending, support for historical research, and expanding exchanges, as two pillars, under the Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative which has a purpose to build a relationship toward the future between Japan and neighboring countries.

We must not evade the weight of the past, nor should we evade our responsibilities for the future. Japan, facing up squarely to its past history and accurately conveying it to future generations, is determined to do its utmost to further promote the friendly relationship with the Netherlands which will celebrate the 400th anniversary in the year 2000.


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