After saying that he would not issue a new apology regarding the comfort women, Shinzo Abe issued one Monday, Japan time, saying, “I express my sympathy toward the comfort women and apologize for the situation they found themselves in.”
I personally didn't see the point to this apology because 1) It only adds to the "apology fatigue" of the Japanese, and 2) It wasn't the kind of apology the victims were demanding from the Japanese government. Abe's recent statement only adds to the long list of lip-service given by the government to these women. While I'm sure the criticism over his comments last month undoubtedly had something to do with this recent apology, it was too little and too late.
In another interesting turn of events, it seems that former PM Nakasone is also under suspicion for setting up a military brothel when he was a naval officer during WWII. He denies these allegations and says his R&R facility was used for the harmless pursuits of playing shogi and "getting together." Although he is very nationalist, he surprisingly states that Japan should issue a "straightforward apology" to the comfort women (although I would like to hear what his definition of "straightforward" is). Nakasone also denies having any firsthand knowledge about the facts regarding the comfort women and claims that his knowledge comes only from reading newspapers and the like. Personally, I would be hardpressed to believe that a former WWII naval officer and PM would have no firsthand knowledge of these brothels and comfort women.
In a parallel situation, there are people in Britain (most notable is the Archbishop of York, Britain's first black archbishop) who are also calling upon the government to issue a formal apology for its role in the slave trade, which Britain abolished 200 years ago. The second most senior clerk in the Church of England, Dr. Semantu, rejected reparations and said a full apology would be an act of strength, while Charlotte Wilberforce advocated modern-day slavery being featured more prominently in school cirriculum. So 200 years later, Britain is still dealing with its colonial past. I wonder what that means for Japan...