Osaka mayor urges San Francisco board to retract condemnation of his sex slave justification


Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said Thursday that he has sent a letter to the board of supervisors of sister-city San Francisco to request that it retract a resolution condemning his remarks seeking to justify Japan’s wartime system of military brothels.

Hashimoto, who doubles as co-leader of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), drew international scorn over remarks he made in May that the wartime brothels, and their “comfort women,” were “necessary” for Japanese soldiers.

The board unanimously adopted the resolution on June 18, stating it “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.”

In the letter dated Aug. 13, Hashimoto said the resolution is based on “misunderstandings,” as he has “never legitimized or defended the institution of the comfort women,” using Japan’s euphemism for the wartime sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese forces.

“My statements on (the) comfort women have always been consistent with my concern for the protection and enhancement of women’s dignity and human rights,” he claimed.

The mayor said “the recent tendency of exaggeration” of the comfort women issue lies behind “misunderstandings” of the San Francisco board.

Hashimoto said the condemnation of Japan over the issue “often contains rootless and exaggerated claims. It is “simply a baseless statement” that all or most comfort women were abducted systematically by Japanese authorities, he added.

Although many nations have been involved in wartime violations of the dignity of women by their soldiers, “there has been a worldwide disseminated view” that Japan’s use of comfort women is peculiar, or even unique, in the history of mankind, he argued.

Hashimoto aired concerns over “the increasing movement to erect monuments in the U.S. dedicated to the comfort women, saying the “anti-Japan movements” reportedly backed by Korean-Americans will “only degrade the honor of Japan and its people” and could harm Japanese-U.S. as well as Japanese-South Korean relations.

Hashimoto said he has “no intention to trivialize” the comfort women’s ordeal, but said “attempts to single out and to criticize only Japan will make us blind to other past atrocities and also to contemporary problems of the same kind.”

He urged each nation to “address this unacceptable problem as a common issue for human beings” and suggested Osaka and San Francisco cooperate in joint research on the issue of sex on the battlefield.

Hashimoto was scheduled to visit San Francisco and New York from June 10 and had hoped to meet both cities’ mayors, but canceled the plan after he received a letter from a senior San Francisco official in late May that urged him not to visit amid the furor caused by his remarks.

  • zer0_0zor0

    … and Hashimoto is only one of several shamefully embarrassing political figures in Japan at present…

  • Ron NJ

    Anyone who uses the phrase “comfort women” is part of the whitewashing history problem.

  • Adam Smith

    Everyone should read his original letter instead of this article. What he claims is reasonable, at least to me. [slash] keizaisenryaku/cmsfiles/contents/0000232/232705/01.koukaisyokanEnglish.pdf

    • Franz Pichler

      Adam, you’re perfectly right! As I said, I guess both have a point to make

  • I think his request to my home town has all the chances of a snowball in hell.

  • Akira_Mishima

    I live in Japan and understand the Japanese languages. Mr. Hashimoto’s remarks have been largely distorted by the media, mostly foreign headers and left-wing local newspapers. As this article states, although Mr. Hashimoto said that in time of war providing a sort of sexual relief to soldiers might be useful to their mental sanity – as indeed it always happened in the world before and even after WW2 – he “never legitimized or defended the institution of the so-called comfort women”. It is a real pity that San Francisco officials and many American members of Parliament in general have been bowing to the (also financial) pressure from Korean activists.

    • IanPG

      American Members of Parliament? Who are these people. That aside, I think some San Francisicans felt his remarks were crude; and, for Hashimoto to attribute that backlash to some kind of Korean-American conspiracy just shows how out of touch he is with American society.

    • Frank O’Brien

      I think Mr. Hashimoto doth protest too much. He’s just a naturally arrogant coward with a big mouth. If he felt the need to apologize to the Americans for what he later said about the Okinawan sex industry why didn’t he apologize to the Koreans, Chinese etc. The comfort women paid a heavy price for the mental sanity of the Japanese soldiers. I don’t think they felt very comfortable.

  • Mark Makino

    The problem is really one of emphasis – you could write a book on the US Civil Rights Movement focusing heavily on its impact on property values in white neighborhoods, but what would that say about how your sympathies lie demographically and racially?
    You could talk about the issue of officially sanctioned wartime rape by devoting equal time to expressing your regrets and doubting to what extent the army was officially involved in recruitment (a tiny issue considering that whether they participated in recruitment or not, they definitely participated in imprisonment and repeated rape), but and observer with the slightest sense of scale would see your massive pro-Imperial Japan bias.

    • zer0_0zor0

      Recall that the political party he is credited with co-founding was named after the so-called Restoration of the emperor as sovereign, ushering in the age of Japanese imperialism.

      A connection to that is also the seen with Aso and Abe, scions of the Meiji oligarchy from Satsuma and Choshu.

      Authoritarianism and imperialism are the common denominators to the political agenda of the above-named individuals.and their respective parties.

  • Iain Macpherson

    He is very much right that degrading sexual exploitation was *very* widespread among all armed forces in WW2, and that there is a total cover-up about this when it comes to the Allies.

    Read more:

    • Ron NJ

      Voice of Russia, the Russia’s government-run international broadcasting service. There’s a credible, unbiased source if I ever saw one, right? Speaking of, I wonder why there’s no mention of the Russian atrocities in that link – they were, after all, part of the Allies.

  • Revelation

    Sorry Hashimoto, but the United States won’t easily forget your comments as Japan does their past history.

  • shinjukuboy

    Why does this man not shut up? No Olympics for Japan! And it is “forced prostitution”, not “comfort women”. Nothing was “comfortable” about it.