The Japanese mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto has been forced to apologize for comments he made about the role of prostitutes used by military organizations to relieve the stress and tensions in its members.
The mayor caused an outcry on May 13th when he claimed the U.S. military in Japan should make use of the country’s adult entertainment industry to relieve the sexual tension and aggression servicemen often feel.
Hashimoto had referenced sex slaves — calling them “comfort women,” a common wartime euphemism — and said that their presence was “necessary” to offer soldiers a “rest.”
He also made remarks appearing to claim their was no problem with the Japanese government of World War II forcing women into prostitution for its army members.
In a statement made to explain his comments, which had caused anger around the world the mayor claimed his comments had come from his unhappiness at a series of sexual assaults made by members of the U.S. military on Japanese women.
Hashimoto stated he had told a U.S. base commander in Japan to encourage his soldiers to use the widespread adult entertainment industry to relieve sexual frustrations. Mayor Hashimoto failed to apologize for his comments about the so-called comfort women forced into prostitution during World War II; instead, he claimed other nations around the world also used similar tactics of forced prostitution in wartime, including the U.S., U.K. and Germnay.
“I am totally in agreement that the use of ‘comfort women’ by Japanese soldiers before and during the World War II was an inexcusable act that violated the dignity and human rights of the women in which large numbers of Korean and Japanese were included,” Hashimoto said at the start of a nearly three-hour news conference before foreign and domestic media.
“I also strongly believe that Japan must reflect upon its past offenses with humility and express a heartfelt apology and regret to those women who suffered from the wartime atrocities as comfort women,” he said in an English version of the statement. “I have never condoned the use of comfort women.”
A Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in the aftermath of the mayor’s comments:
“There is worldwide recognition … that the issue of comfort women amounts to a wartime rape committed by Japan during its past imperial period in a serious breach of human rights. Our government again urges Japan’s prominent officials to show regret for atrocities committed during Japan’s imperial period and to correct their anachronistic way of thinking and comments.”
According to NBC News, Hashimoto’s popularity has waned, with only 3 percent of voters planning to cast their ballots for his party in a July upper house election, down 6 percentage points from an April questionnaire, a survey by the Nikkei business daily showed.
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