New NHK Chairman Katsuto Momii’s remarks on Jan. 25 on such issues as wartime use of sex slaves, the state secrets law and the role of NHK’s international broadcasts shows that he is not aware of the proper role of the public broadcast organization and his responsibility as the one with the final power to direct NHK’s news coverage and programs. Although he retracted his remarks, he should realize that they have greatly harmed the credibility of NHK as a news organization.

At his first news conference as chairman, Momii said that wartime sex slave system existed in all “war areas”: “Can we say that it did not exist in Germany or France? It existed everywhere in Europe.” He also said that while such a system is wrong in view of today’s morality, it was a reality of those days. This callous stance, which makes light of women’s human rights, is abhorrent and must be criticized. Momii also asked, “Why are there still show windows [for brothels] in the Netherlands?” This statement could be taken as an insult toward the Dutch women who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Imperial Japanese armed forces.

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