Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said Sunday he will urge the U.S. military to strictly discipline its servicemen in Japan and repeated that he would retract a remark suggesting they use Okinawa’s sex industry to avoid committing sexual offenses.
Hashimoto said on a TV program that he will make the appeal at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday, when he will also apologize to the American people and military for his comments that U.S. personnel in Okinawa should make use of the local sex industry.
“I will urge (the U.S. and its military) to enforce strict discipline in a full-fledged manner” at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, the cohead of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) said. He first mentioned the plan on Saturday.
Attempting to explain his original intent, he repeated Sunday that he was trying to urge the U.S. military to “be more responsible” because of the rising number of sex offenses against servicewomen in its ranks.
“The situation within the U.S. military concerning sexual assaults against women soldiers has been horrible and President (Barack) Obama is outraged about it,” Hashimoto said.
Meanwhile, he again stated that he has no intention of retracting his recent claim that the forcible recruitment of women to work as sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese Army during the war “was necessary” to maintain discipline among its troops. The remark caused global outrage and opprobrium.
On May 13, Hashimoto said brothels staffed by “comfort women,” as they are euphemistically called in Japan, were necessary for brave soldiers who had been at the frontlines of the war.
He also said that during an April inspection of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, he had asked a senior U.S. officer to allow marines to use the prefecture’s sex services to prevent them from assaulting local women.
On Saturday, Kim Bok Dong, 87, one of tens of thousands of South Korean forced to provide sex for Japan’s soldiers, dismissed Hashimoto’s “absurd comment” about the comfort woman system and said that anyone who makes such ill-conceived remarks should quit politics.
Kim and compatriot and ex-sex slave Kil Won Ok, 85, who are touring Japan to reveals the details of their painful past, canceled a meeting Friday with Hashimoto, citing his lack of remorse and reluctance to become political pawns.
Hashimoto’s comments have caused an uproar in neighboring countries that experienced Japan’s wartime aggression firsthand and continue to complain about the lack of atonement for atrocities committed by its troops.