U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday signed into law a spending bill which includes a highly symbolic provision on Japan’s wartime sexual enslavement of Korean and other Asian women.

The signing of the bill came a day after Congress passed it in order to keep government spending going for the fiscal year 2014.

The legislation includes language calling for Secretary of State John Kerry to encourage the Japanese government to address the issue of the “comfort women.”

They refer to as many as 200,000 women, mainly from Korea and China, who were forced into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The nonbinding document notes a 2007 resolution, adopted by the U.S. House, demanding Japan offer a formal apology.

It “urges the secretary of state to encourage the government of Japan to address the issues raised in the resolution.”

The inclusion of the comfort women issue in U.S. legislation is unprecedented.

Meanwhile, Obama took a short walk across the street from the White House to participate in the signing ceremony held at the New Executive Office Building.

“Now, this is not usually where I do bill signings,” he told his aides and federal budget officials during the signing ceremony. “We wanted to make sure that we did this bill signing here because it represents the extraordinary work of so many of you.”

He added, “We would not be here, we would not be able to sign this legislation if it hadn’t been for your work. This is my way of saying thank you.” (Yonhap News)