Hashimoto’s ‘inane’ remarks hurt Japan, play into China’s hands: Armitage


Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was critical Thursday of Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s recent remarks about Japan’s wartime system of military brothels, noting such actions were “harmful” to Japan’s image.

“The real crime in this is this is at such odds . . . with the Japan of the last 70 years, a Japan which has been a paragon of protection of human rights and human freedoms,” Armitage said at a Tokyo forum. “To make these comments, to me, is inane.”

Hashimoto said earlier this month that Japanese military brothels during the war were necessary to maintain discipline, sparking anger in South Korea.

Facing strong criticism at home and abroad, Hashimoto sought to clarify his comments to the foreign media Monday in Tokyo, saying he did not personally view the “comfort women,” Japan’s euphemism for victims described as sex slaves, as necessary but was merely describing the thinking at the time.

Armitage said such comments are “extraordinarily harmful to all of us” because China uses them as a reason to say to the world that Japan, under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is turning to the right and not squarely facing its wartime history.

“Chinese go all around the region, including the United States, with the following message: You know, this government of Mr. Abe, they’re rightwing nationalists,” he said. “So when politicians make comments like this, it does the diplomatic work for China.”

Armitage said people in South Korea are hurt “when politicians make ignorant comments about comfort women,” calling it a “bad development” because the comments “divert attention” from issues that should be addressed, such as China’s growing assertiveness and territorial disputes involving Beijing, including over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Japan and China remain at odds over the sovereignty of the islands, known as Diaoyu in China. When Japan effectively nationalized the islets, which have long been under its control, in September, protests and boycotts of Japanese goods erupted across China. Since then, there have been numerous intrusions by Chinese vessels into Japanese waters.

During the forum on the Japanese-U.S. alliance in the context of Asia, Armitage also downplayed the recent unannounced trip to Pyongyang by Abe adviser Isao Iijima to hold talks with senior North Korean officials.

Armitage noted the need for Japan to inform its allies — the United States and South Korea — in advance and to “take into consideration to some extent the others’ equities” when dealing with North Korea.

“In this case, that was not fully done and that was a mistake,” he said, quickly adding that the incident would not have long-term consequences for the countries’ relations.

  • haavbline

    Abe’s goverment IS rightwing nationalists in every way. It is ridiculous for Armitage to pretend otherwise. But his is correct in stating that they hurt Japan.

  • 4567654

    Armitage is mistaken. This is Japan and that’s why these right-wingers have always been in power. This attitude that the Japanese had the right to rape women as sex slaves because it was the good for their soldiers’ mental health shows they don’t care about human rights. They think they can violate an individual’s human rights if serves the greater good for their side.

    • $53594500

      how bout the brutal ongoing occupation of Tibet. i dont see you comlpaining about their human rights. Is everybody in china a hypocrite?

    • Kitty Hawk

      4567654, are you
      serious? Utilizing brothels means raping???
      Come on. Then, how do you explain the fact that brothels are still legal
      in some countries even if they’re developed countries? Do these nations urge people to violate human
      rights by committing sex crimes, rapes?

      In general, brothels used to be run by entrepreneurs for Japan’s military in
      those days as some Western countries did.

      You seem to misunderstand the fact.

      Why don’t you study brothels for other nation’s militaries in the old
      days? Japan’s military’s case was said to be a good role model
      during WWII.

  • Robert Siu

    Instead of condemning such atrocity against humanity, Armitage has just played into the Japanese extreme rights’ hand..

  • Michael Williams

    What I find mind-numbing, is the fact that people are sitting back and making broad reaching, and purposefully vague statements about an entire nation and its’ people, without any consideration to the reality of the individuals that comprise a nation, be it Japan or China. I happen to teach and interact with Chinese and Japanese students everyday through my profession, and what people need to simply understand it this; an individual’s government is not a direct reflection of the individual and their perspective of life.

    Japan’s government is conservative, which is by it’s nature is the definition of right winged. Does this mean that the entire population of Japan condones sexual
    slavery? No, only the minute minority of people would say such. So what if they have nationalistic perspectives. Every country does, period; this has been a consistent and constant fact to the nature of humanity since the rise of Nation-States when Europe rumbled out of the ashes of the Roman Empire.