The Osaka city assembly has called on the central government to pressure San Francisco to remove a statue to wartime "comfort women" — a euphemism used to refer to the women and girls who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels before and during World War II.

The statement of opinion was passed Tuesday, the same day San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died suddenly at age 65. Lee, who had worked as a civil rights lawyer and city bureaucrat before becoming mayor, had been a strong backer of the statue and memorial.

But actions by Lee and San Francisco drew condemnation from Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura, who scrapped the six-decade sister city relationship over the issue. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also weighed in, expressing regret that the statue had been erected.