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Osaka Mayor and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) coleader Toru Hashimoto refused Wednesday to back down from his comments about the necessity of the “comfort woman” system during the war or the desirability of legal brothels in Okinawa for U.S. military personnel.

Hashimoto’s views, originally aired Monday, have created a firestorm in and out of Japan, with ruling and opposition party politicians rushing to distance themselves from him and concern within Nippon Ishin that the controversy will spark a backlash in this summer’s Upper House election, assuming the party is still intact when it takes place.

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