California's Board of Education has approved new school curriculum guidelines calling for teaching students about Japan's wartime sexual slavery.
The board unanimously approved the History-Social Science Framework that includes the "comfort women" issue in the world history curriculum for grade 10.
The framework said that "'comfort women,' a euphemism for sexual slaves, were taken by the Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during the war," and that the issue can be taught as an "example of institutionalized sexual slavery, and one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the twentieth century."
It also said that estimates on the total number of comfort women vary, but most argue that hundreds of thousands of women were forced into these situations during Japanese occupation."
On Friday, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the approval.
"I am pleased that California will now teach our students about these women's tragic history. I hope doing so will help ensure such atrocities are never committed again," Royce said in a statement.
"In my time representing Southern California, I have fought to expose the trauma and shame suffered by the Comfort Women. That's why I was a leading co-sponsor of a resolution, passed by the House, calling for an apology from Japan and why I helped organize a congressional hearing at which several Comfort Women told of their suffering," he said.
Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, which was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II. But Japan has long attempted to water down the atrocity.
The sexual slavery issue has long been the biggest thorn in relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
But the two countries announced a landmark agreement in late December that centers on Japan's admission of responsibility for the wartime crime and plans to pay reparations to the victims. South Korea promised to end the dispute once and for all if Japan fulfills its responsibilities. (Yonhap)