It was a very calibrated apology, “to the US forces and to the American people“, but then the mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto doubled down on his opinion about comfort women, effectively insulting those countries where comfort women were abducted – again.
On Monday, the former lawyer, until recently a rising star of Japanese politics , claimed his comments about US troops on Okinawa had been misreported.
“My real intention was to prevent a mere handful of US soldiers from committing crimes and strengthen the Japan-US alliance and the relations of trust between the two nations,” Hashimoto told a packed press conference in Tokyo.
He said he had suggested that troops use the “legally accepted adult entertainment industry” out of a “sense of crisis” over sexual assaults by US servicemen.
“I understand that my remark could be construed as an insult to the US forces and to the American people and was inappropriate. I retract this remark and express an apology.”
Here we go again – another herpes eruption of Japanese right-wing revisionism.
A Japanese local leader’s defense of the use of Chinese and Korean sex slaves to service Japanese soldiers during World War II as a “necessary” part of the war effort has drawn angry responses from Beijing and Seoul, aggravating tensions in the region that were already high after a series of earlier provocations.
“We are shocked and indignant at the Japanese politician’s remarks, as they flagrantly challenge historical justice and the conscious of mankind,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said a regular press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday. “How Japan treats its past will decide its future.”
Mr. Hong was responding to comments by Toru Hashimoto, the outspoken mayor of Osaka, who told reporters on Monday that the taking of sex slaves–euphemistically referred in Japan as “comfort women”–was justifiable. “Anyone can understand that the system of comfort women was necessary to provide respite for a group of high-strung, rough and tumble crowd of men braving their lives under a storm of bullets,” Mr. Hashimoto said, adding that apart from moral considerations “back then it was a necessary system to maintain military discipline.”
South Korea’s foreign ministry also slammed Mr. Hashimoto on Tuesday.
I went inside and bowed to Chiyun, whose simple blue uniform was dirty with stains. He did not seem to notice me. On the wall was the familiar picture of the ugly young man, Emperor Hirohito. I always thought he was not a very impressive man for an Emperor. An Emperor should be handsome and strong, not boyish and ugly. Maybe that’s why the Japanese had to try to keep us weak, so people would not notice how much more handsome and strong a man such as my father was than their Emperor.
Story of a Comfort Girl is the novelized version of a stage play written by Roger Rudick based on the testimony a comfort woman, Ji In-sil. Ji, then 70 years old, offered her testimony to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1991. Ji’s account begins in 1941 in an unnamed village, where Ji and her widowed father, a teacher with anti-Japanese sentiments, fear Japanese reprisals. Ji’s father instructs her to flee to Busan, if he ever fails to return from late-night meetings with his fellow anti-Japanese scholars. Ji begins a journey to live to with her father’s family in Busan, is abducted under false pretenses by Chiyun, a minor Korean functionary at the post office, along with two other Korean girls, goes to Japan, and then finally to an unnamed Pacific island, where a Japanese unit is attacked by American forces. In the process, Ji and the other two girls are repeatedly raped by Japanese sailors and soldiers, and both of the other girls are murdered by Japanese soldiers.