Hashimoto brings South Korea into fray

Looking to deflect blame from Japan, mayor says Seoul's troops abused women in Vietnam War


South Korean soldiers were guilty of abusing women in wartime, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) coleader and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said in comments reported Tuesday, days after provoking a storm by labeling sex slaves a military necessity.

In a remark likely to fuel outrage and further stoke tensions in an already uneasy relationship, Hashimoto said the South Korean military used women for sex to keep servicemen’s frustration in check in Vietnam.

Sex slavery is a particularly sensitive issue on the Korean Peninsula, whose females made up a large number of the “comfort women” forcibly drafted into brothels catering to the Japanese military during the war.

Hashimoto said last week these women served a “necessary” role keeping battle-stressed soldiers in line, setting off a volley of criticism from places that came under Japan’s yoke in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as from the U.S.

In the days since his original comments, Hashimoto has continued to fan the flames with each new pronouncement.

“Japan was bad,” he told a party meeting Monday, the Asahi Shimbun reported. “It is true that we used women to solve the problem of sex on the battlefield.

“Having said that, America, Britain, Germany and France, and even the South Korean military in Vietnam after WWII, they all used women to address the issue.

“Japan was bad, but you all should face up to the history. This is what Japanese politicians must say,” the Asahi quoted him as saying.

Under military strongman Park Chung Hee, the father of current President Park Geun Hye, South Korea deployed more than 300,000 soldiers to Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s to support U.S. forces.

There is no mainstream evidence that any modern military, other than Japan’s up to and during World War II, employed any system of sexual slavery.

While the embattled Hashimoto has gone on to blame others in an apparent attempt to lessen the impact of his own remarks, his allies are increasingly distancing themselves from him.

Your Party formally decided Tuesday to scrap its cooperation with Nippon Ishin for this summer’s Upper House election as well as the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election next month.

“Now we have realized that the two parties have different values,” Your Party chief Yoshimi Watanabe told a party meeting. “So we need to fundamentally review our relationship.”

Their botched cooperation for the Upper House election focused on unifying the two parties’ candidates in dozens of districts nationwide.

In Osaka, Nippon Ishin Secretary General and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui acknowledged a tough road ahead. “We are in a harsh situation but will fight tooth and nail,” he said.

Nippon Ishin coleader Shintaro Ishihara has suggested that Hashimoto quit Twitter and put his views down on paper instead, according to Matsui.

Ishihara, no stranger to controversial statements, was quoted as telling avid Twitter user Hashimoto: “You should quit Twitter. If you have something to say, wouldn’t it be better to compile it into a thesis?”

Matsui told reporters Monday that Ishihara made his suggestion during a meeting of party executives in Nagoya the previous day.

“Since Mr. Ishihara is a major writer himself, he probably wanted to say that thoughts cannot be conveyed in short sentences,” Matsui said in a reference to Twitter’s 140-character limit.

Hashimoto has more than 1 million followers on Twitter.

  • O T

    >There is no mainstream evidence that any modern military, other than Japan’s up to and during World War II, employed any system of sexual slavery.

    Some article on sex slavery in South Korea for US soldiers:
    Ex-Prostitutes Say South Korea and U.S. Enabled Sex Trade Near Bases

    • Glen Douglas Brügge

      But remember, sex slavery implies being forced to work as a sex worker, against your will and for no pay. As this article states, no coercion to date has been claimed. Yes, the US and the South did enable it – as the Japanese Government and the US Government did in the post war years in Japan (it’s no secret) – but this is not the same as taking women from their homes and forcing them to perform sex acts upon pain of death as was the case with Imperial Japan.

    • Ron NJ

      “While the women have made no claims that they were coerced into
      prostitution by South Korean or American officials during those years,”

    • dontwannaregister

      You should re-read that NYT article…

      “While the women have made no claims that they were coerced into
      prostitution by South Korean or American officials during those years,
      they accuse successive Korean governments of hypocrisy in calling for
      reparations from Japan while refusing to take a hard look at South
      Korea’s own history.”

      “…the women have made no claims that they were coerced into

    • dontwannaregister

      You should double-check that New York Times article

      “While the women have made no claims that they were coerced into
      prostitution by South Korean or American officials during those years,
      they accuse successive Korean governments of hypocrisy in calling for
      reparations from Japan while refusing to take a hard look at South
      Korea’s own history.”

      emphasis on “…the women have made no claims that they were coerced into
      prostitution by South Korean or American officials…”

  • Masa Chekov

    Keep digging, Toru – the dirt is just piling right up on your head.

  • Sam

    Hashimoto just doesn’t know when to shut up!

    What a disgrace!

  • KenjiAd

    Every time he opens up his filthy mouth, he changes the subject. He is not a historian, has never studied the history of Vietnam War, and has no idea what he is talking about. He even insults reporters of Mainichi Shimbun by saying they are “頭が悪い” (stupid, unintelligent). His arrogance is beyond belief.

    Besides I don’t understand why he kept saying “But everyone was doing it.” Suppose everyone was indeed doing it. So what? Would he re-resurrect Genghis Khan to prove that China, too, was committing war atrocities?

    Please. I don’t know about him, but when I was growing up in Japan, I believed boys (and girls for that matter) shouldn’t make lame excuses when we were wrong. What he is doing is truly not a “manly” thing to do. It’s quite pathetic.

  • Reinhard Zoellner

    It’s definitely true (and there is plenty of evidence) that Nazi Germany’s military entertained a “comfort women” system quite similar to the Japanese during World War II, even including brothels at concentration camps. It is also true that this has received far less attention than the Japanese system. But it is absolutely silly to use this as an excuse or a pretext for not doing justice to the victims of Japanese wrongdoings. When you point a finger at someone else, you always have three pointing back to you. But this is something that people like Hashimoto will never get.

  • http://www.sheldonthinks.com/ andrew Sheldon

    I don’t believe he is suggesting Japanese soldiers did not do this, or that it was ok. I believe he is trying to justify the actions of Japanese by saying, other military forces did the same thing. Yes, other military personnel, like ‘some’ general citizens rape and abuse, but he wants to suggest that the practice in the West was as ‘institutionalised’ as it was for the Japanese. Basically nationalism/collectivism rearing its ugly head. You get the same type of argument against the Israelis from Palestinians. Well, in fact this guy is more honest, because many Palestinians act with righteous indignation, whilst living in a slave state with no free media or democratic apparatus.

  • the_casual_guy

    Paying prostitutes is not the same as sexual slavery. Hashimoto really seems stupid with these remarks!

  • Yogi

    Every warring country has used women for comfort. Why corner just Japan. The soldiers from US military bases in Japan continuously create news of rapes. Hashimoto Toru, just dont worry about idiots like Watanabe who keep changing their views and parties every other day!!

  • RMMStaInes

    Somebody or someone in Osaka should stand up and tell Hashimoto to stop and quit before taking Osaka and Japan in more trouble. His political life is over and these issues will be remembered in the book of history forever. Throw in the towel, its time, its done!!

  • nobuo takamura

    Hashimoto has more than 1 million followers on Twitter. I guess most of the followers are having fun with him for pleasure itself and for treacherous trips in the political sphere.

  • martaz

    He is 100% correct. American and S. Korean soldiers definitely committed many horrific atrocities in Vietnam. However, he is deflecting the discussion and justifying what Japanese soldiers did. As an old American expression says: “That’s like the pot calling the kettle black.” Which means that if you have the Rape of Nanjing in your history, don’t try to justify WWII atrocities by comparing them to what soldiers from other counties did. it makes him sound ignorant.

  • Vance Carothers

    Mr Hashimoto is like a long list of political leaders who have taken their country down the wrong path. It is becoming more and more evident every time he trys to pass the blame onto someone else instead of admitting his mistake. Silvio Berlusconi and George W Bush were two of his predecessors. He is trying to justify sex slavery and Japan’s aggressive behavior in World War ll, but you can’t make the truth out of something that is not. After all we are talking about the cosplay mayor.

  • Lt.Dan

    If he wants to talk about Americans’ attitude towards Viet Nam – he’s partially right: we don’t study our war crimes in that country enough. But you know what? Viet Nam is almost universally presented in US culture as a moment in our history to be ashamed of. The cinema and art surrounding it is brutally honest. Americans have spent a LOT of time talking about, reflecting on, and just plain regretting that part of our history. Yes, many Americans would rather forget it – and many of us have gleefully repeated the mistakes of Viet Nam.

    We at least talk about it; we make movies about it; we tell those stories. I know of nothing comparable in Japan – we have plenty of movies about the Viet Nam war – how many Japanese directors have made films about Japan’s shameful moments in history? How many Japanese films and TV shows present WWII as a tragic, shameful moment in Japanese history? I know of none (though I would appreciate any recommendations, though, if there are any such films).

    I mean, he can try to act like “everyone else does it,” but we don’t. We just don’t do it like Japan does. We just don’t.

  • El Don

    It’s time for Hashimoto to step down. He has become unbearable for Japan. Unfortunately, I cannot think of anyone having the power to force him to step down. Hopefully the electorate will vote him out of office as soon as possible.

  • Agniel

    WTF, this guy is equating individual American and Korean soldiers partying with bargirls on their own with the institutionalized gang-rape and horrific abuse of young women and girls perpetrated by the Japanese government, and there are people here actually sympathizing with him. Japan really has a long way to go.

  • Dennis Wong

    You guys should get some facts straight. Mr Hashimoto brought that out because South Korea has been asking for compensations again and again for a single incident. Not only that, every single time when they had dispute over something, South Korea just brought up the same thing and use it for negotiation. It’s nothing but a dirty trick, IMO. But still, it worked so far. Why Japan had to apologize multiple times for the same wrong doing is beyond me.


    That said, how many times did South Korea compensate the women and the children who are the result the rapes?

  • Gerald Lafon

    As a U.S. Marine, I served in Vietnam (70-71) with the 2nd ROK Marine Brigade in Hoi An. I saw no Korean sex slaves. There were plenty of opportunities for men to go to Vietnamese brothels in Danang or elsewhere.