Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka, apologized Monday for suggesting to a U.S. military commander in Okinawa that American soldiers should make more use of Japan’s sex industry.
Hashimoto made several comments in the past month about the treatment of women by the military. His apology did not include a claim he made that Japanese soldiers used “forced prostitution” during World War II.
Hashimoto’s suggestion that U.S. forces use Japan’s “adult services” came as a result of an increase in the number of cases involving sexual abuse by members of the American military stationed in Japan.
“I told him there are places that operate within the boundaries of the law which can be used for releasing sexual frustration, so they (the U.S. military) should fully utilize it or the Marines won’t be able to control their aggressive sexual desires,” Hashimoto said.
He later acknowledged that he could have made an error in the wording of his suggestion, and his comments “could be construed as an insult to the U.S. forces and to the American people, and therefore was inappropriate.”
However, he stands by his statement about “comfort women”, Japan’s term for women who work in brothels, who were forced to attend to Japanese soldiers. The number women coerced into prostitution was in excess of 200,000. The comments produced an angry response from China and South Korea whose countries were occupied by the Japanese Imperialist Army during World War II.
Hashimoto denied that forced prostitution was government policy.
“I stated that ‘the armed forces of nations in the world’ seemed to have needed women ‘during the past wars,’ ” he said. “Then it was wrongly reported that I myself thought it as necessary for armed forces to use women and that ‘I’ tolerated it.”
He further explained that the use of women was not limited to the Japanese.
“It also existed in the armed forces of the Republic of Korea during the Korean War and the Vietnam War,” Hashimoto added, using the official name of South Korea.
“If only Japan is blamed, because of the widely held view that the state authority of Japan was intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women, I will have to inform you that this view is incorrect,” he said.
Last year Hashimoto formed the Japan Restoration Party with former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara. Polls show that only 3% of voters plan to vote for his party. That number is down 6% since he made his comments about “comfort women.”
He did publicly recognize that the Japanese army had done great harm by using the women.
“We must express our deep remorse at the violation of the human rights of these women by the Japanese soldiers in the past, and make our apology to the women,” he said.
The Guardian Express