National / Politics

Forcibly recruited Korean sex slaves a myth: lawmaker

Kyodo

A Lower House lawmaker of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) has questioned whether Koreans were such “cowards” as to allow girls and women in their neighborhoods to be forcibly recruited as sex slaves in Japan’s wartime military brothels.

Nariaki Nakayama, well known for his ultraconservative views, made the remark at an assembly of Nippon Ishin lawmakers Friday to emphasize his belief that “comfort women,” as they are known in Japan, were not “forced” to work in the brothels.

“We need to raise our voices and tell the world that (females) were not forcibly taken away,” Nakayama said while defending remarks made last month by Nippon Ishin co-leader Toru Hashimoto, who attempted to justify the wartime system of sexual slavery.

In remarks that drew global condemnation, Hashimoto, who doubles as Osaka mayor, said the system of military brothels was “necessary” to maintain discipline in the Imperial Japanese Army, sparking outrage especially in South Korea. During Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, thousands of girls and women were rounded up to sexually service Japanese soldiers.

Hashimoto later sought to distance himself from the remarks, claiming he had been misreported and did not personally hold such a view but was only describing the prevailing mindset at the time.

Nakayama told the Nippon Ishin gathering that given the population of the Korean Peninsula was 20 million at the time, if 200,000 females were forcibly taken as claimed, it would mean one out of every 100 was forced into sexual servitude.

The House of Representatives lawmaker called on South Korea to stop making such claims because they only “malign Japanese people, as well as (South Koreans’) own ancestors.”

Nippon Ishin in May expelled Lower House member Shingo Nishimura for alleging that “there are swarms of South Korean prostitutes in Japan.”