"The more Japan attempts to cover up, the heavier its responsibility for its oppressive colonial rule and cruel war crimes will become," the cross-party group of 30 assembly members said.

 

Most of the victims were Koreans, whose country was occupied by  Japan from 1910 to 1945, but some were from other East Asian  countries and even Europe.

 

Denial disputed

  

Abe was quoted as saying in a news conference on Thursday that there was no evidence women were coerced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II.

"The fact is that there is no evidence to support the claim of the coercion," said Abe, who is known for his conservative views.

"The outrageous remarks distorted history and poured cold water on South Korea-Japan ties.They must be withdrawn immediately," said a  spokesman for the main opposition Grand National Party.

  

"Japan will never be able to hide from the historical truth. It should learn from Germany and repent its past wrongdoings," he  said.

  

A spokesman of the ruling Uri Party said Abe's remarks hurt bilateral ties between the two neighbouring countries.