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Hashimoto sticks to guns on sex slaves

Wartime forced prostitution was necessary at the time, he says

by

Staff Writer

Osaka Mayor and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) coleader Toru Hashimoto refused Wednesday to back down from his comments about the necessity of the “comfort woman” system during the war or the desirability of legal brothels in Okinawa for U.S. military personnel.

Hashimoto’s views, originally aired Monday, have created a firestorm in and out of Japan, with ruling and opposition party politicians rushing to distance themselves from him and concern within Nippon Ishin that the controversy will spark a backlash in this summer’s Upper House election, assuming the party is still intact when it takes place.

Speaking to reporters in Osaka shortly after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told an Upper House committee that Hashimoto’s position on the issue of wartime sex slaves is different from that of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the Osaka mayor said the comfort women issue was settled in a 1965 treaty with South Korea.

He repeated earlier statements in which he said the women underwent much pain and suffering and that Japan needed to reflect on what it did. But he said his comment that the system was necessary needs to be understood within the context of the times.

“I did not say that the comfort women system was necessary today. If the Second World War were to occur now, (a similar system) probably wouldn’t be enacted, and nobody would approve of the kind of comfort women system Japan had back then,” he said.

Hashimoto added that because other countries have also provided prostitutes to soldiers during wartime, he can’t understand why the world is singling out Japan, while also maintaining that he isn’t saying the comfort woman system was a good thing.

“During the Korean and Vietnam wars, local women were recruited by the U.S. as prostitutes for the military, although official U.S. policy was that the women and men were acting on their own,” Hashimoto said.

On his advice to American officials in Okinawa earlier this month that U.S. military personnel should make more use of sex establishments as a way of controlling their sexual urges, Hashimoto said he did not tell the U.S. that it should use such facilities, or to build such facilities, noting it was only a suggestion.

He added that if such facilities were built and the U.S. agreed to use them, the current Status of Forces of Agreement would have to be revised so Okinawa police would have more authority to detain U.S. personnel suspected of crimes in such establishments.

Hashimoto plans to visit San Francisco and New York next month, although given the controversy his remarks have generated in the U.S., he joked that he might not be allowed to pass through immigration.

“As long as my visa request isn’t denied, I plan to go to America,” he said.

Hashimoto also explained his stance in a meeting with Junko Tsuji, the Osaka Municipal Assembly head. Tsuji warned him that as a politician he is free to say what he wants, but as mayor of Osaka his remarks were widely reported.

  • frankyburns

    Maybe the US visa people can find a reason to deny or at least delay his visa. Maybe put it on the wrong stack for awhile, long enough for him to miss his trip next month. Plenty of people wait more than a month for visas — why not this jerk?

  • leaf

    “If the Second World War were to occur now […] nobody would approve of the kind of comfort women system Japan had back then” and yet he “suggested” that U.S. military take advantage of prostitutes not 60 years ago but earlier this month…

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.oharrow.7 Stephen O’Harrow

    I hope the US denies this clown a visa.

    Toru Hashimoto is an embarrassment to all our good Japanese friends and he certainly does not represent Japan in a decent light. Given the tensions in East Asia today, an area where a thoughtful Japanese foreign policy is crucial to international peace, statements like these from major politicians can only turn Japan’s neighbors against her when she needs them the most. I hope the Japanese voting public will totally reject what this man has said. That will be necessary to assuage feelings in countries like Korea that suffered greatly and to re-assure those of us in America who greatly value the continued friendship of Japan as our closest ally in Asia.

    Stephen O’Harrow, Director,
    Center for Southeast Asian Studies,
    University of Hawaii,
    Honolulu, HAWAII

  • trueamerican2012

    Once again, another big name Japanese politician manages to cram his foot into his mouth on the global stage. And he was supposed to be the hope of Japanese politics? Surely he will fade into the shadows soon….

  • Guest

    I regard his remark as really shameful as Japanese.

  • Amanda Feijoo

    I’m starting to think he legitimately doesn’t get it. He makes it seem like sexual slavery was a bad thing and no woman wanted to do it but it was necessary, like the soldiers didnt want to go to war but had to. It’s unfortunate this kind of thinking is effecting the laws regarding womens health and rights.

  • http://naruhodo.jp.net/ Leong Shen Lim

    I can’t understand why he would make such remarks. He is ruining his reputation himself. What a shame.

  • Francis McInerney

    Hashimoto’s valuation of women is an outrage. He says that net-net, the
    value of my mother, wife, daughter, sisters, aunts, friends, and
    colleagues is their usefulness as comfort women.

    Starting
    with his wife, this is the time for the women of Osaka, indeed all of Japan, to demand
    Hashimoto’s immediate resignation. There is no place in a democracy for
    an elected representative who so publicly values women the way
    Hashimoto does. Imagine New York’s Mike Bloomberg standing at the podium with all
    the men and women in his administration arrayed behind him, saying what Hashimoto said.
    He would not have survived more than another hour in office.

    The saddest of all outcomes would be if the women of Japan do NOT demand Hashimoto’s immediate resignation.

  • Universal Declaration

    So, if one used identical reasoning to that used by japanese mayor Toru Hashimoto then it would be perfectly acceptable that The People’s Republic of China if and when they retake Okinawa as per their historically justified May 2013 sovereignty claim, used Japanese women there as ‘comfort women’ in order to “maintain discipline in the ranks and provide rest for soldiers who risked their lives in battle”.

    Now extrapolate that to all the so called japanese islands which China will eventually retake.

  • JR

    Well…he continues to expose himself as:
    -A callous person
    -An badly misinformed and maleducated person
    -A racist
    -closed minded, over proud, arrogant….what else…?
    If the Japanese continue to vote for him, it’s no wonder they are losing respect in Asia and further afield.

  • Michael Mancuso

    So, to those suggestion the denial of a visa thing, I have a counter-point, well, actually two.

    Firstly, the general rule of thumb with countries with moderate-to-good relations is that a valid passport is all that is needed to come into a country. A visa is only required for stays longer than 90 days or stays with a purpose otherwise restricted to only US citizens, asylees/refugees, and permanent residents.

    (for instance, if they wanted to go to a college and get a degree, they would need to get one of the following visas: M-1, J-1, F-1. Long-term (>3 months) “diplomatic personal” would need to get an A visa. Tourists would require )

    The only real conceivable way to deny Hashimoto legal entry into the US based solely on his presumably valid Japanese passport would be for the US to declare him persona non grata (or something of similar effect), which it will not do to a major political figure of one of our few close allies on the basis of him having a stupid, sexist opinion.

    Which is an awkward segue into the second, more conceptual, counterpoint. Bluntly put, to deny Hashimoto entry into the US based on his beliefs, regardless of what they are, runs counter to the founding principal of the American belief system. That humans are free to believe what they wish without fear of violent or governmental retribution.

    His opinion is stupid, that “times were different, so forced prostitution was needed.”, but it is his opinion, that he is free to have under both US and Japanese law. Any DHS agent that would move to stop the entry of anyone into the US on that basis betrays their country, their government, and the rule of law.

    In the end, it isn’t government’s job because it’s the job of the public. He should be protested, he should be eviscerated on the various facets of the Internet media machine, and he should probably be ousted in the next election.

    He will certainly not be received well in San Fran, and as a New Yorker myself, I can say that he won’t find much love in NYC as well, and that’s probably the way it should be; the court of public opinion is a stronger than the courts of laws in stuff like this anyways.

  • disqus_Jov7DM2Bv0

    Seems like people don’t know his real value. People who just criticize him and hope he’ll resign his position never know how hard he’s been working to change Osaka’s prefecture’s situation.
    He is the one who could make change in japan’s rotten politics.
    I understand people want to criticize him. His remarks are including some inappropriate expression and quite careless, obviously open to criticism.

    But this issue is not that simple enough to consider from only woman’s right perspective.
    People’s disputes below are obviously showing their lack of critical thinking.
    Stop picking up some of his words and criticizing him without any logical explanation.
    Paying attention to the essence of this issue.

  • Max Tandan

    my papa, once told me that he has an auntie who committed suicide after being sexually abused by a Japanese military officer

  • Tom Craig

    The conscription of ‘comfort women’ is a sad and egregious concern, but in times of war (a truly horrific condition), is it any worse than the conscription of young men as soldiers to kill or be killed? This has been the nature of war since the beginning of time. Hashimoto’s only error is refusing to sweep the unspeakable under the rug.

  • http://akemi-mokoto.me/ Akemi Mokoto

    That man should resign. He gives Osaka and everybody in Japan a bad name. He is not fit to run Osaka at this point.

  • taki sunsun

    There are some misunderstanding.
    He want to insist that:
    Japan has already regretted and apologied to comfort women.
    How about USA? You did same thing together!

  • Ron NJ

    ‘“During the Korean and Vietnam wars, local women were recruited by the
    U.S. as prostitutes for the military, although official U.S. policy was
    that the women and men were acting on their own,” Hashimoto said.’
    To quote WIkipedia:
    Tu quoque (pron.: /tuːˈkwoʊkwiː/),[1] (Latin for “you, too” or “you, also”) or the appeal to hypocrisy, is a logical fallacy
    that attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting the
    opponent’s failure to act consistently in accordance with that position;
    it attempts to show that a criticism or objection applies equally to
    the person making it. This dismisses someone’s point of view based on
    criticism of the person’s inconsistency, and not the position presented,[2] whereas a person’s inconsistency should not discredit their position. Thus, it is a form of the ad hominem argument.[3]
    To clarify, although the person being attacked might indeed be acting
    inconsistently or hypocritically, this does not invalidate their
    argument.

    Bravo, Hashimoto, bravo.

  • martaz

    I hope he IS granted a visa. I want him to face the protests in the US. Specially if he visits Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York. Korean and Chinese Americans will NOT be giving him a warm reception. I guarantee it

  • Perry Constantine

    Don’t deny him a visa. Instead, anyone he was scheduled to meet with in the United States should cancel the meeting as a consequence of his comments.

  • Thomas

    Hashimoto is an absolute idiot either he is in total denial or he does not seem to understand the difference between prostitutes and sex slaves but maybe in his warped mind there is no difference.

  • Owen

    What Hashimoto is saying repeatedly in his Twitter and elsewhere is, in short, “we were wrong, and we need to apologize, but other countries did the same thing. Why do they accuse only Japan, and overlook what they have done. All countries should look sincerely at what happened no matter WHERE it happened.”
    His comments are largely misunderstood through bad translation.

  • Jiminosaka

    Hashimoto will never resign or be forced to resign; in Japan thats not how things are done. He still has majority support of those who elected him on his nationalistic views and colaboration with Ishihara. His remarks are only damaging to Ishihara/Abe/Taros plan to revise the constitution, roll Japan back 60 years to where all foriegners and some Japanese are excluded because they dont understand or have rebelled against Japanese ways. By July, unless one of the stooges makes another gaffe, this will all be forgotten and its game on to get the constitution changed and then engage in confrontations with multiple neighbors in the region (China, both Koreas, Tawain) The Japan Restoration Party is just that, it wants to restore japan to Ishiharas vision of a Japan with Emperor as head of state and trash anything that resembles a democracy includeing all post war human rights gains made in Japan. All those gains were made by outsiders who dont understand Japan, and all things “gai” must be eliminated or sanitized. Abe is a clever politican, and his recent comments about how he welcomes multinationals to work in an international zone seems promising, so its difficult to pin down if he really aligns himself with the Japan restoration party or is just using them to gain popularity, or perhaps they are a type of uyoku, doing the dirty work for him (creating incidents or antagonizing neighbors) while he remains insulated from it all. For us old hands in Japan,we know that everything in japan isnt what it seems, and play on words/manipulation is always predictable.