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Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru, a comedian-turned-rookie-politician, waded into a political minefield Wednesday, claiming it was hard to confirm as historical fact that the wartime Japanese military coerced women across Asia into frontline brothels.

The comment at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo by Higashikokubaru, better known by his stage name Sonomanma Higashi, echoes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent remarks on what Japan euphemistically called the “comfort women,” sparking an international outcry.

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