OSAKA - Osaka Mayor and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) co-leader Toru Hashimoto remained defiant Wednesday in the face of a fresh round of domestic and international criticism over his comments that Japan’s wartime “comfort women” system of sex slavery was necessary at the time.
On Tuesday, the 11-member San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the city’s legislative branch, unanimously adopted a resolution demanding Hashimoto retract his comments and calling on San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, in his capacity as mayor of Osaka’s sister city, to send the petition to Hashimoto and the Osaka Municipal Assembly. The resolution will also be sent to U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and members of Congress.
“The board of supervisors strongly condemns the attitude and statements of Hashimoto justifying the state-sponsored ‘comfort women’ system, which forced hundreds of thousands of Asian women into sexual servitude for the Japanese military, and denying the historical veracity of such atrocities committed against women and girls in countries occupied by Japan throughout East and Southeast Asia.”
The board “urges Hashimoto to publicly retract his statements and apologize to the survivors of the Japanese government-sponsored ‘comfort women’ system of forced sexual slavery,” the resolution says.
It also criticizes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet for their own views on the matter.
“Amnesty International . . . attacked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who became prime minister on Dec. 26, 2012, and nine future members of his Cabinet, when they jointly signed an advertisement in the Nov. 4, 2012, New Jersey Star Ledger that ‘denied (that the) Japanese Imperial Army forced women into military sexual slavery during World War II,’ ” it states.
The San Francisco resolution came a day after Nippon Ishin co-leader Shintaro Ishihara blasted Hashimoto, not for the content of his comfort women remarks, which Ishihara basically shares, but for the political damage to the party the comments have done. Some media polls show Nippon Ishin’s approval rate at less than 2 percent.
In an interview with Kyodo on Tuesday, Ishihara said the controversy was causing great trouble for the party and suggested Hashimoto might be finished as a politician.
But on Wednesday, Hashimoto indicated he would not retract his comments.
Nippon Ishin’s platform for the Upper House election is also defiant, saying that, “as for the so-called ‘comfort women’ issue, we need to clarify the historic facts and protect the dignity and honor of Japan and Japanese citizens.”
“I don’t think my comments were a mistake, and I will continue to explain them to voters,” Hashimoto told reporters in Osaka.
Ishin lays out platform
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) will seek to revise the nation’s principles on arms exports and approve the right to collective self-defense, according to a final draft of its pledges for next month’s Upper House poll.
The draft, obtained Tuesday, also proposes reforming the education system by allowing students to skip grades, and creating a system that would allow “death with dignity” in keeping with one’s wishes as expressed in a living will.
“We will undertake necessary reforms without considering whether it works to our advantage or disadvantage,” the paper says. “This can never be done by political parties backed by vested interests.”
The party, co-led by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, will pledge to strengthen security by reviewing the “three principles on arms exports.”
These principles state that weapons should not be exported to communist-bloc countries, nations subject to an arms embargoes under U.N. Security Council resolutions, and countries involved in or likely to be involved in international conflicts.
The party will also pledge to deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance and support the plan to relocate the Futenma air station from the city of Ginowan to the less populated Henoko area in Okinawa.
Other policy pledges include introducing the principle of competition among agricultural cooperatives and medical corporations.