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Japanese mayor calls off U.S. trip over wartime sex-slave defense

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Osaka Mayor and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) leader Toru Hashimoto announced Tuesday evening that he is canceling the trip to San Francisco and New York he planned for next month.

Hashimoto cited the continued anger over his comment that Japan’s wartime sexual servitude system was necessary at the time and his suggestion that the U.S. military in Okinawa should make more use of sex establishments.

“After listening to the opinions of those in the municipal assembly and others, I’ve directed that steps be taken toward cancellation of the trip, as there’s no merit to going,” Hashimoto told reporters in Osaka.

The move had long been expected as the increasingly isolated mayor faced continued anger, ridicule and criticism in and out of Japan, especially in the United States.

Through a spokesman, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee said he was offended and outraged by Hashimoto’s comments, and Emily Murase, executive director of San Francisco’s Department of the Status of Women, condemned Hashimoto’s comments and said his visit to the city would be a problem.

Worried he would be greeted by protesters and concerned the visit would negatively impact Japan-U.S. relations, Diet members from Nippon Ishin and the Liberal Democratic Party put intense pressure on Hashimoto and his advisors to at least postpone the trip until after the upcoming Upper House election.

In the Osaka Municipal Assembly, Hashimoto faced tough questions last week from members of his own party and the opposition about what he would do in the U.S. if the mayors of San Francisco and New York refused to meet him.

Many warned his trip was nothing more than a junket that would only inflame American, and international, public opinion and further damage the reputation of both Osaka and Japan.

Last week, Hashimoto said he would take into consideration the reaction of his Monday appearance in front of the international media before making a final decision on whether to cancel or go ahead with the trip. That reaction seems to have been far more negative than he and his advisors had hoped for, despite an apology to the American public for his Okinawa remarks and an admission they were inappropriate.

“The trip is canceled. It’s too bad that I wasn’t good at getting my thoughts across. But going would have created a burden on the places I’d planned to visit,” Hashimoto said Tuesday.

  • nobuo takamura

    He is one of the most childish and unfaithful politicians in Japan because arguablly they are not able to reflect on themselves just after they are given a chance to do so. It’s because he has not grown up to be a good lawyer owing to his experince of practicing in the prostitutes’ world in Osaka. He should have taken no time to decide on his resignation if he had undergone a genuine course of becoming an attorney.

    • mohindar

      You waste many words to say nothing.

      Yes, he shouldn’t have said those things about sex slaves, but why determine politics based on morals and feelings? This is Western style thinking, and it’s terribly unenlightened. Are his policies good for the nation, or not?

      • itaran koto

        Because enlightened people start with the end first. A politician’s effectiveness is governed by his/her emotional and moral stance (i.e. values). A politician without values is the most dangerous kind.

        Also, this is not about western vs. eastern thinking. This is about global common sense and the betterment of humanity.

        Are his comments good for the world or not?

  • Glen Douglas Brügge

    He should be forced to resign; he will never live this down – and I am certain, being the idiot that he is, he will only further blemish his party’s and Osaka’s record by remaining in place. He has made himself an international pariah.

  • itaran koto

    Just read through the entirety of the English translation of Hashimoto’s “explanation”. The translation itself seems credible and well-written when compared to the video.

    I’d just like to make some general comments and point out a few “goodies”, as well as mention some of the important take-aways.

    *-*-*-*

    OK. I get the part about all nations needing to accept responsibilities for their own crimes to move forward to ideal world values. But why did you blurt it out the way you did?

    I also accept the apology he gave to the U.S. Army (Marines? Navy?) and the American people. Again, But why did you blurt it out the way you did?

    Regarding the tiff with South Korea, I think he failed in saying anything which mitigates the emotional heat … In a nutshell, he says “We apologized, did something about it and still feel remorse. But you say that’s not enough. You’re not following the “rule of law”. Let’s stop barking at each other about it and take it to the International Courts, shall we?”

    Towards the end, he states “I firmly believe that neither hatred nor anger can resolve the problems between Japan & Korea” … Ironic, since just a few weeks back, he was fanning the flames with his insensitivity comments on the topic of “comfort women”.

    Regarding the structure of his speech, I think he would have done better job if he reversed the order of the three issues, leaving the most important for last. And by doing so, he would have probably been more careful with how he addressed South Korea with it being the lead-off topic.

    Finally, what really strikes me about this entire speech is how verbose it is. Makes me wonder how many criminals would be let off the hook if they were afforded the opportunity to make such long-winded “explanations” in court.

    And because of his long-windedness, I have to doubt that he is truly sincere.

    *-*-*-*

    Anyhow, some good news for those who don’t want to waste too much time reading through it all!

    Hashimoto scores a 95% in the use of transitions! Good job, Hashimoto, in connecting all those seemingly unrelated sentences! That’s one half of the goodness …

    The other is, Hashimoto gives a plethora of “buzzwords” for entrepreneurs looking for t-shirt logo ideas!

    Language to use when you’re on the hot seat:

    “What I really meant in my remarks was …”
    “It was not my intention.”
    “My real intention was…”
    “My strong sense of crisis …”
    “Please do not misunderstand …”
    “What I really meant in my remarks …”
    “Such justification has never been my intention …”
    “I intended to argue that …”
    “I will elaborate my real intention as follows …”
    “I felt a strong sense of crisis and said” [implied meaning: "therefore you should forgive me for speaking without thinking" => emotional leader = troubled followers]
    “From my strong sense of crisis …”
    “When expressing this strong hope, I used the phrase …”
    “Furthermore, my remark was misunderstood to mean …”

    *-*-*-*

    A few lessons from all this for Hashimoto and any leaders/ politicians out there.

    Don’t be wordy.
    Be more sensitive and aware.
    Think before you talk.
    Take full responsibility for your mistakes & misjudgments and give full priority to appeasing all who are connected to you.
    Mean what you say.
    Say what you mean.