OSAKA – Osaka Mayor and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) coleader Toru Hashimoto Saturday defended his remarks on Japan’s wartime sex slave system and criticized media outlets for running misleading reports.
On a TV program, Hashimoto said he would not tolerate forcing women into such services. Earlier in the week, he came under a barrage of criticism for saying the “comfort women” system was necessary during the war.
“I meant that countries around the world thought at the time that comfort women were necessary. The subject (of the sentence) is not I,” he said, blaming the media for issuing partial or misleading reports.
Hashimoto repeated that he didn’t intend to encourage prostitution when he urged U.S. servicemen in Okinawa to make use of the legal sex parlors there.
While U.S. officials have also rapped Hashimoto for the remarks, the outspoken politician stated that “the United States is not facing up to its own history.”
“I want them to have genuine discussions about controlling sexual energy,” he added.
On Friday, Hashimoto told the press that the public’s “lack of reading comprehension” has caused his remarks to be “misunderstood.”
The embattled politician also said he will shut out the media from any reporting opportunities except for his official news conferences.
Facing reporters at City Hall in the evening, Hashimoto blamed the media for perpetrating “big misreporting,” without delving into specifics. He stressed that he has never endorsed Japan’s wartime military brothel system but said his remarks have been taken to suggest otherwise.
“I hope people will have the ability to read and understand (my remarks),” he said.
Hashimoto tried to counter U.S. criticism against his sex-slave remarks by saying U.S. servicemen used Okinawa women as an easy outlet for their sexual desires while the prefecture was occupied after the war.
“I think the U.S. should look at what it did,” he said.
Touching on the infringement of women’s human rights during the war, Hashimoto pointed out that Britain, France, Germany and South Korea are in no position to blame others. He didn’t elaborate.
Activists seek U.N. action
Activists on Friday criticized Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) coleader Toru Hashimoto’s recent remarks supporting wartime and peacetime sexual services for soldiers and urged a United Nations rights panel to take up the issue when it opens its review of Japan next week.
The activists, including those from the Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace and from Amnesty International, expressed their views at a meeting with experts from the Committee against Torture, which is mandated under a U.N. human rights convention and was established in 1988.