World War II Sex Slaves to Testify Against Japanese at Congressional Hearing Thursday , February 15, 2007 WASHINGTON — Three women who say they endured rape and torture at the hands of Japanese soldiers during World War II and a lifetime of mental and physical scars are asking that U.S. lawmakers urge the Japanese to apologize. The two Koreans and a former Dutch colonist were among as many as 200,000 "comfort women" who historians say were forced to have sex with millions of Japanese soldiers during the war. Japan objects to a proposed congressional resolution calling for an apology, and the measure has led to unease in an otherwise strong U.S.-Japanese relationship. In prepared testimony submitted before Thursday's hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Asia subcommittee, Kim Koon-ja spoke of the three years she spent as a young girl being raped by Japanese soldiers, sometimes as many as 40 a day. "The war has ended, but for 62 years I have had to live a life with a scar in my heart," she testified. "The Japanese government continues to treat us as if we are not human." "Governments must know that our bodies and our innocence have real value and worth," Kim said. "Governments must know that we will not forget." Japan says that its leaders have repeatedly apologized. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, for instance, said in a letter sent in 2001 to the comfort women that he felt sincere remorse for their "immeasurable and painful experiences." Japan acknowledged in the 1990s that its military set up and ran brothels for its troops. But it has rejected most compensation claims, saying they were settled by postwar treaties. The Asian Women's Fund, created in 1995 by the Japanese government but independently run and funded by private donations, has provided a way for Japan to compensate former sex slaves without offering official government compensation. Many comfort women have rejected the fund. In a letter sent to the congressional panel, Japan's ambassador to the United States, Ryozo Kato, said his country has recognized its responsibility, apologized and acknowledged its actions. "While not forgetting the past, we wish to move forward," Kato wrote. A group of lawmakers is demanding more. Their resolution, which has yet to be endorsed by the House, urges Japan's prime minister to "formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner" for the women's ordeal. It was unclear when the House panel would consider whether to endorse the resolution. The resolution does not recommend that Japan pay reparations. Besides an official apology, it urges Japan to reject those who say the sexual enslavement never happened and to educate children about the comfort women's experience. A similar resolution was passed last year by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Republicans, who then controlled Congress, never brought it before the full House for action.