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San Francisco mayor ‘offended’; meeting in doubt

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Embattled Osaka Mayor and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) coleader Toru Hashimoto faced fresh criticism Tuesday from the San Francisco mayor’s office over his remarks about the necessity of Japan’s wartime brothels.

Osaka says Hashimoto will meet with San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee on the morning of June 11, but the international firestorm created by the Nippon Ishin leader’s remarks that Japan’s “comfort women” system had been necessary at the time has infuriated human rights groups and the U.S. State Department, which called Hashimoto’s remarks outrageous and offensive.

That view is shared by the San Francisco mayor, and despite the schedule Osaka announced, Lee’s office says the Hashimoto meeting has not been confirmed.

“Mayor Lee is disappointed and offended by (Hashimoto’s) statement,” said Francis Tsang, a spokesman for the mayor.

In addition, San Francisco’s Department of the Status of Women, formed in 1998 by the city, has criticized Hashimoto’s comments.

“Sex slavery is never ‘necessary,’ ” Emily Murase, the department’s executive director, said in a statement. “To justify the exploitation and suffering experienced by the women, some just girls, who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II is a flagrant denial of human rights.”

Osaka and San Francisco have a sister-city relationship dating back to 1957, and mayoral delegations have visited each other on numerous occasions over the years. The San Francisco-Osaka Association condemned Hashimoto’s remarks last week.

“Statements that justify controversial wartime abuses and devastating violence against women are damaging to international relations and contrary to the mission of the association,” it said.

  • JTCommentor

    Hashimoto’s usual modus operandi (1. make carefully worded extreme and controversial comment, 2. backpedal relying on the careful wording and legal-type argument that he didnt actually say what everything thinks he said, 3. the majority buys his story and he escapes unscathed but with weeks of free nationwide press) didnt work so well this time. International focus on what he said which makes his legal type argument harder to sustain, as well as the sensitivity on the issues (as well as alienating himself from 50% of the population) has really created a fire storm.

    Maybe now Hashimoto will have to come up with some new idea to stay relevant – i dont know – maybe some good, sustainable and innovative policies, rather than relying solely on “fame” and national press. Sure good policies wont stroke his ego like weeks of being on TV and newspapers, but they are more likely to win him some votes.

  • nhr215

    Why is it so impossible for Japan to acknowledge and atone for its war time atrocities in WWII. Germany did this 50 years ago and you’d never hear a German official say something outrageous like “the holocaust was necessary”. Japan’s brutality towards All of its neighbors during the war is well documented, from Indonesia to Korea to China to Vietnam, etc. Every one of these countries has memorials to massacres and mass rapes committed by Japan during its “imperial” phase. There has never been an apology and even recent prime ministers have denied it ever happened!

    • http://www.ahawkins.name Andrew Hawkins

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_war_apology_statements_issued_by_Japan

      There have been several apology statements issued by Japan over the years. Whether or not they are sincere, or numerous enough, is a matter of debate. But it seems clear to me that nobody is willing to accept them in any case, put the past away and move on.