OSAKA - Former Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto will visit Washington this month and is trying to set up a meeting with senior aides to President Donald Trump, sources close to him said Friday.
The high-profile politician whose candid remarks have often stirred criticism at home and abroad, is seeking to arrange a meeting with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and other senior staffers through the Foreign Ministry, the sources said.
He also plans to deliver speeches at think tanks, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the conservative Heritage Foundation during the March 26 to 29 visit, which is apparently aimed at raising his flagging profile.
After ending a four-year stint as mayor in 2015, Hashimoto became an adviser to opposition party Nippon Ishin no Kai. Before becoming mayor he spent almost four years as Osaka governor. Senior members of the party will accompany him on the U.S. trip, which could be seen as a forerunner to his return to politics.
Hashimoto unabashedly praises Trump and has issued tweets describing him as a “true politician” and “does not fear sacrifice or being criticized to achieve his goals.”
Hashimoto had planned a visit to the United States in 2013 but had to cancel over a backlash sparked by his opinion that the Imperial Japanese military’s use of the “comfort women” — masses of Koreans and other women forced into Japan’s military brothels before and during the war — was necessary “to maintain discipline.”
He had also said U.S. forces in Okinawa should make use of the adult entertainment industry to prevent servicemen from committing sex-related crimes.