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Osaka mayor: Wartime sex slaves were necessary

By Malcolm Foster

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:24 a.m. HST, May 14, 2013

TOKYO » An outspoken nationalist mayor said the Japanese military's forced prostitution of Asian women before and during World War II was necessary to "maintain discipline" in the ranks and provide rest for soldiers who risked their lives in battle.

The comments made Monday are already raising ire in neighboring countries that bore the brunt of Japan's wartime aggression and that have long complained that Japan has failed to fully atone for wartime atrocities.

Toru Hashimoto, the young, brash mayor of Osaka who is also co-leader of an emerging conservative political party, also told reporters that there wasn't clear evidence that the Japanese military coerced women to become what are euphemistically called "comfort women."

"To maintain discipline in the military, it must have been necessary at that time," said Hashimoto. "For soldiers who risked their lives in circumstances where bullets are flying around like rain and wind, if you want them to get some rest, a comfort women system was necessary. That's clear to anyone."

Historians say up to 200,000 women, mainly from the Korean Peninsula and China, were forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers in military brothels.

An unidentified South Korean government official told Yonhap news agency it was disappointing that a senior Japanese official "made comments supportive of crimes against humanity and revealed a serious lack of a historical understanding and respect for women's rights."

Hashimoto's comments come amid mounting criticism at the prospect of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conservative government revising Japan's past apologies for wartime atrocities. Before he took office in December, Abe had advocated revising a 1993 statement by then-Prime Minister Yohei Kono acknowledging and expressing remorse for the suffering caused to the sexual slaves of Japanese troops.

Abe has acknowledged "comfort women" existed but has denied they were coerced into prostitution, citing a lack of official evidence.

Recently, top officials in Abe's government have appeared to backpedal on suggestions the government might revise past apologies, apparently to calm tensions with South Korea and China and address U.S. concerns about Abe's nationalist agenda.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga repeated the previous government position and said that those women went through unbearable pain.

"The stance of the Japanese government on the comfort women issue is well known. They have suffered unspeakably painful experiences. The Abe Cabinet has the same sentiments as past Cabinets."

Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura said Hashimoto's remark doesn't help as Japan has faced criticism from its neighboring countries and the U.S. over its interpretation of history.

"A series of remarks related to our interpretation of (wartime) history have been already misunderstood. In that sense, Mr. Hashimoto's remark came at a bad time," Shimomura told reporters. "I wonder if there is any positive meaning to intentionally make such remarks at this particular moment."

Hashimoto, 43, is co-head of the newly formed Japan Restoration Party with former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, who is a strident nationalist.

Sakihito Ozawa, the party's parliamentary affairs chairman, said he believed Hashimoto's remarks reflected his personal view but expressed concerns about repercussions.

"We should ask his real intentions and stop this at some point," he said.

Associated Press writers Elaine Kurtenbach, Miki Toda and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Sam Kim in Seoul contributed to this report.

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oxtail01 wrote:
Darn, the arrogance of the "superior race" Japanese never dies! Pretty soon they'll be saying all the horrific war killings were not "war crimes". Visit their museum in Hiroshima and you'll see all the explicit blame of Americans for "genocide" of the atomic bomb. What a bunch of hypocrites they are! Just look at the Japanese here in Hawaii and you can see how the younger generation still carries on their ethnic arrogance and clings to "Japanese" products - their cars and electronics especially - as still being superior.
on May 13,2013 | 10:15PM
opalaedo wrote:
The younger generation does not know much about the atrocities that happened as it seems light years away from the society that they live in today. Many don't vote because the politicians lack any integrity and don't know much but what is fed to them by their older leaders. As for the young showing this ethnic arrogance, I totally disagree, as Japan is no longer the leader of great electronic equipment and gadgets but now a follower after South Korea. Japan's younger generation has lost its social compass and no longer adhere to the thinking and attitudes of the past. Hashimoto, once a lawyer, tends to put his foot in his mouth, just like Ishihara, and love to stir the pot. Most Japanese do not think like these two so please don't paint the Japanese as such because of these two loud-mouth politicians.
on May 13,2013 | 10:28PM
HOSSANA wrote:
geezus, you blatant racist....for one thing, their cars and electronics are still superior....@#$% american made products ain't worth a damm anyway, and im from california and arizona.....
on May 14,2013 | 12:22AM
kuewa wrote:
Accurate recall of history is not racist in the sense that you are using the word; and making arguably better cars in no way removes the fact that Japan willfully persecuted and murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians throughout Asia for several decades before and during WWII. The magnitude of atrocities committed by the Japanese military at least match those committed by Nazi Germany. Perhaps you think it is also racist to recount Germany's actions during WWII?
on May 14,2013 | 12:37AM
mitt_grund wrote:
Amen! Almost the equivalent of anti-Semites saying the holocaust never happened. The Japanese butchered unarmed civilian populations, enslaved "comfort" women in countries they overran. And now this idiot says "comfort" women were a necessity for the morale of the lonely Japanese soldier away from home. Much of Asia still hates the Japanese for their atrocities, which to Americans seem nothing because it was one yellow race doing it to other yellow races. And the Japanese have never ever done justice to those countries, let alone offered any sincere apologies. The only country that got "justice" was the U.S. Military bases and paid geisha. And the U.S. turned its back on prosecuting certain acts of atrocity the Japanese military pursued -- a special Japanese unit did vivisection of Asian captives and other grisly "medical research" and the U.S. took the research and never prosecuted the members of that unit, instead engaging the members as consultants. In preparation for future wars of greatness? And of course, the Japanese are now the U.S.'s staunchest ally -- beats paying for one's own military forces, until the next time Imperialism rears its head in Japan.
on May 14,2013 | 05:57AM
mitt_grund wrote:
Amen! Almost the equivalent of anti-Semites saying the holocaust never happened. The Japanese butchered unarmed civilian populations, enslaved "comfort" women in countries they overran. And now this neo-nationalist says "comfort" women were a necessity for the morale of the lonely Japanese soldier away from home. Much of Asia still hates the Japanese for their atrocities, which to Americans and other Western countries seem nothing because it was one yellow race doing it to other yellow races. And the Japanese have never ever done justice to those countries, let alone offered any sincere apologies. The only country that got "justice" was the U.S. Military bases and paid geisha. And the U.S. turned its back on prosecuting certain acts of atrocity the Japanese military pursued -- a special Japanese unit did vivisection of Asian captives and other grisly "medical research". The U.S. took the research and never prosecuted the members of that unit, instead engaging the members as consultants. In preparation for future wars of greatness? And of course, the Japanese are now the U.S.'s staunchest ally -- beats paying for one's own military forces, until the next time Imperialism rears its head in Japan.
on May 14,2013 | 06:03AM
oxtail01 wrote:
Thank you for confirming my statement on "ethnic arrogance".
on May 14,2013 | 09:37AM
Mediocrates wrote:
This ignorant resurgence for the Fascist past is disturbing and increasingly common in Hawaii too. It's common now in Hawaii to see the Imperial Rising Sun Flag used for casual decorations - that is about the same thing as using Nazi Swastika's for decoration. The horrors committed by the Imperial Japanese genocide machine under that flag is abhorrant but people here seem to not even notice when it is on cars, paintings, etc. With such tolerant attitudes towards genocide by them abroad its not surprising to hear they still celebrate it back home.
on May 14,2013 | 01:01AM
HD36 wrote:
Most people have no idea what it means in the first place. GSP wore it on his gi before his fights untill the Koreean Zombie told him what it meant.
on May 14,2013 | 10:13AM
kolohepalu wrote:
Speaking of ignorance, the American flag has been flown over the commission of countless acts of genocide and barbarity. It makes me a little sick when I see people fetishizing it, as well.
on May 14,2013 | 03:57PM
news333 wrote:
He's an arse.
on May 14,2013 | 02:24AM
primo1 wrote:
So you equate the use of Japanese products with what you call "ethnic arrogance", but of course this would only apply to a person of Japanese ancestry who uses Japanese products. Anyone else is just using what they believe to be the best available product on the market. Makes perfect sense...
on May 14,2013 | 08:34AM
oxtail01 wrote:
Most people now know "best available products" are not Japanese - if you haven't noticed, Japanese electronics from Sony, Panasonic,etc .are considered mediocre at best and I don't have to tell you about the Toyota quality debacle! Hey, I'm not saying don't buy Japanese, just making a point that the local Japanese "arrogance" demand that they stick with their sense of ethnic superiority. Doubt my words? - just do a quick research on the which makes the local Japanese tend to buy and which ethnic group they tend to stick with and marry into.
on May 14,2013 | 09:32AM
primo1 wrote:
Your opinion and/or perception do not equal fact, so no point in debating. And if you haven't noticed, the "Toyota quality debacle" started when they decided to manufacture cars in the North America instead of keeping production in Japan.
on May 14,2013 | 11:06AM
saveparadise wrote:
ox, do you know your head from your tail?? My father and uncles are 442nd veterans that fought in WWII for your sorry butt. Nissei and those that follow are born and raised Americans. We have never had any political ties to Japan. What part of your past is fueling your hate? Wouldn't it be better for you to move on with your life?
on May 14,2013 | 09:44AM
Windward wrote:
Your logic of lumping ALL Japanese in with a conservative crazy denying Japanese small time politician is equivalent to lumping ALL Americans in with people like Sarah Palin & Jake Knotts. This is simply an outspoken ignorant politician. The good ol USA has a ton of those, we've got creationists & global warming deniers sitting on the Senate Science Committee, we've got people that deny the existence of the Holocaust, we've got openly active KKK organizations that still operate under the pursuit of white supremacy, we've got organizations that advocate for open unaccounted gun sales in the midst of mass shootings. To take a person with terrible views and lump an entire ethnic group with that person is ridiculous logic. I know many Japanese people that know about & are ashamed of these Japanese atrocities, but let's be real it's not like America is any different. Denial of past atrocities against the Native Peoples of their lands still continues today in both the US mainland and their occupied territories, especially here.
on May 14,2013 | 10:04AM
primo1 wrote:
I'm with you Windward, unfortunately oxtail01 has an axe to grind with ALL the Japanese, not just the one fool the article is about...
on May 14,2013 | 11:21AM
kolohepalu wrote:
The Americans firebombed Tokyo, purposely incinerating 100,000 civilians. The Americans routinely summarily executed Japanese prisoners. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were genocide, explicitly deemed militarily unnecessary by Dwight D. Eisenhower and General McArthur, amongst others. Local Japanese have retained their ethnic pride, unlike many on the mainland, and to the consternation of ha-ole Americans. Good.
on May 14,2013 | 03:52PM
baileygirl9631 wrote:
I hope you're not talking about AJAs in Hawaii. Otherwise you sound just like the air-headed white supremacists of WWII. This politician, in the meantime is another wanna be "samurai" with foot in mouth disease.
on May 15,2013 | 09:37AM
oxtail01 wrote:
Same type of ignorance as a person saying there was nothing wrong with slavery! Different facial features but same racisdt attitude. Just proves evil doers have no ethnic boundaries!
on May 13,2013 | 10:19PM
baileygirl9631 wrote:
Oxtaill101. - You just don't get it! Maybe you should go see your doc and see if you don't have "foot-in-mouth" disease.
on May 15,2013 | 09:43AM
Nalukai wrote:
Are you kidding me ? This is 2013 not 1944, oh the arrogance !
on May 13,2013 | 10:32PM
kuewa wrote:
Perhaps Mayor Hashimoto can explain why Japanese women were unable to provide this necessary service. And what about the disciplinary needs of all the Japanese women who were left alone without relief?
on May 14,2013 | 02:54AM
Ronin006 wrote:
I’ll explain. The so-called comfort women servicing Japanese troops were from the countries occupied by Japan. Japanese women did their part to service American troops when the war ended and the US occupied Japan. Double standard? You decide.
on May 14,2013 | 04:07AM
kuewa wrote:
I've decided that you are comparing apples and oranges, in terms of magnitude, intent and documentation. I'm also not aware of any US official who has claimed that systematic rape is justified during or after a war, and I agree with cojef's reply to your comment below.
on May 14,2013 | 07:56AM
oxtail01 wrote:
Yup, with a handle name like yours, it's totally understandable that you don't have a clue. A confirmation of my Japanese "ethnic arrogance" statement. Thank You!
on May 14,2013 | 09:33AM
Send this man back to time and lend his wife, mother ,sister, daughter, and aunty, and grandmom, and all the women in his life, into prostitution. Get this guy off my morning paper, he makes me puke!
on May 14,2013 | 03:34AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Stop the nonsense. Mayor Hashimoto did not say “wartime sex slaves were necessary,” as the story’s title says. He said “it must have been necessary at that time,” which, in simple English, means he was making an assumption that women were forced to be prostitutes. History has shown there has been no shortage of women willing to offer their “comfort services” to soldiers, be they invaders or liberators including our own US military forces. The fact that it took almost 50 years following World War II for alleged former sex slaves to make the accusation suggest to me they did it voluntarily and but now are claiming they were forced in hopes of getting some financial compensation from Japan.
on May 14,2013 | 04:02AM
cojef wrote:
Served most of my service time in Japan from January to September 1946, and June 1947 to June 1949, plus as Department of Army Civilian from June 1949 to June 1951, and in al that time all "red light districts" were off limits to all service and military civilian personnel. In fact MP's conducted sweeps of these areas to assure the Japanese population that the Army of Occupation did not tolerate misbehavior by all military personnel. That's not to say there was no fraternization between GI's and Japanese women. Many of our service personnel were granted permission to marry Japanese women after 1950.
on May 14,2013 | 06:18AM
serious wrote:
cojef---did you hear about the two 80 year olds who were talking about getting saltpeter when they were in the service? One said, after 50 years, it's starting to work!!! The subject, of course is tough, like the segregation in the 50's, now we have women in just about every male dominated occupation.
on May 14,2013 | 10:18AM
inHilo wrote:
Or they felt such shame for what happened to them, they did not want to make it public, or they were afraid, maybe even of their own people, to make it public. Waiting fifty years may "suggest" something to you but it certainly doesn't prove it. That doesn't absolve the US for the carpet bombing which killed thousands if not millions of civilians, but denying one crime won't help to end the terrible crime that is war. As for young people being proud of their country, not every Japanese was part of the war effort and certainly by now everyone has suffered enough for that madness called war, so why shouldn't people have pride in their country? All one has to do is look at pictures of what Japan looked like at the end of the war to realize what the Japanese people have accomplished.
on May 14,2013 | 06:48AM
Archie wrote:
The nonsense is to imply that "women were forced to be prostitutes" is the equivalent of "women willing to offer their 'comfort services". The premise of your argument is that the Chinese or Korean women who were forced into this circumstance did so out of their patriotism towards Japan. Further, the fact that 50 years passed before the matter of compensation arose indicates to you that it was a sham and a money grab is also nonsense. Japanese in America also received compensation for their treatment in WWII after more than 50 years had passed. Is this also an indication of a money gab?
on May 14,2013 | 06:57AM
Ronin006 wrote:
No, they did not offer their services out of patriotism towards Japan; they did it to survive. Wars are horrible and cause people to resort to unthinkable acts like having sex with the enemy to earn a little money just to survive.
on May 14,2013 | 01:29PM
kuewa wrote:
I am not aware of any evidence that these women earned any money for their services.
on May 14,2013 | 03:15PM
krusha wrote:
These women didn't volunteer, and many of them were killed or died from disease after being used. The unspeakable hell that they endured just comes back to life every time these brainwashed politicians start preaching their ignorance to others. That's the reason why the Japanese government refused to acknowledge these events in their history books, and now a new generation of kids are exposed to these crazy reinterpretations of their history. History is cursed to repeat itself if people do not learn from it.
on May 14,2013 | 07:02AM
CriticalReader wrote:
Both the weirdo in Osaka and the narcissist posting immediately above are cut from the same cloth of insensitivity and ignorance. Sex abuse, enslavement, subjugation happen all over the world all hours of the day and have throughout history. Osaka guy is a fool for trying to characterize it any other way. The poster above is a fool for trying to appear so, "outraged" when it's going on still, even right here in Hawaii.
on May 14,2013 | 03:04PM
oxtail01 wrote:
Yeah, it's like a white man saying slavery was necessary at that time!
on May 14,2013 | 09:34AM
Cricket_Amos wrote:
Hmmm. The logic seems to be that, in wartime, just as men need to contribute their physical strengths to support the state, women need to contribute their sexual strengths to the support state. But then shouldn't it have been Japanese women who were required to do this?
on May 14,2013 | 05:46AM
mcc wrote:
I should join the army.
on May 14,2013 | 07:13AM
808warriorfan wrote:
WHAT A STUPID THING TO SAY !!!!! And this is from a 4th generation Japanese. THAT ***PUNK*** WASN'T EVEN BORN YET
on May 14,2013 | 07:28AM
CartwrightPark wrote:
Appreciate that my braddah.
on May 14,2013 | 11:09AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
This is actually not his fault. This is what you get when you tolerate the re-writing of history. The kids grow up believing what had been re-written which includes different justifications for various atrocities. The world and media should never have stood by and allowed history to be re-written. Certainly I am not advocating force, just a well organized constant long term media push.
on May 14,2013 | 07:39AM
kuewa wrote:
Making ignorant comments without thinking of the implications is definitely his fault. Although Japan has been less forthcoming about apologizing for atrocities against civilians compared to, for instance, Germany, I'm not aware of any extensive historical rewriting that justified systematic rape.
on May 14,2013 | 07:54AM
Although I'm disgusted to read about what Mayor Hashimoto said, I'm relieved to see the others quoted in the article didn't support his remarks. Mayor Hashimoto being affiliated with Shintaro Ishihara says it all. Shame on you, Mayor Hashimoto!
on May 14,2013 | 08:32AM
primo1 wrote:
And I thought Hawaii had cornered the market on stupid politicians...
on May 14,2013 | 08:38AM
oxtail01 wrote:
Haven't been to Arizona, have you?
on May 14,2013 | 09:36AM
sluggah wrote:
Or Washington.
on May 14,2013 | 11:50AM
baileygirl9631 wrote:
Ours are not stupid. They're just dysfunctional!
on May 15,2013 | 09:48AM
kuhioprince wrote:
This guy is a disgrace and an embarrassment. What's worse, the rest of the Japanese political establishment isn't lining up to chastise him (or even better) give him the boot. One part of problem in Japan (and probably in almost all countries) is that there is little or no attempt to educate people in the ethics of women's rights. When it comes to the spirituality of love and the sexual act, the church may provide guidance, but in Japan religion plays no role in most people's lives. If it were up to me, I'd probably make sure every Japanese (and American) high school kid were required to take classes in such subjects.
on May 14,2013 | 09:22AM
BRock wrote:
It is only an atrocity if it is done by the losing side. What about the atrocity of bombing two defenseless mostly civilian Japanese cities with atomic bombs by the Americans?
on May 14,2013 | 09:32AM
Peacenik wrote:
The comfort women issue is only a small slice of the pie. How about the Bataan Death March, Bridge over the River Kwai, Rape of Nanking where women were not only raped, but mutilated, babies bayoneted, men thrown into pits and buried alive? Prisoners used for bayonet practice, injected with germs or had their blood replaced with animals for experimentation, dissection without anesthetic, women forced to drink gallons of water to save their children from death or beatings. Civilians thrown into bottomless pits, beheaded for entertainment, etc.
on May 14,2013 | 10:03AM
Peacenik wrote:
They also bombed civilians in Shanghai and other places.
on May 14,2013 | 10:28AM
Mei mei wrote:
Which was brought upon themselves and can thank their goverment for bombing / ambushing Pearl Harbor - casualties of war... its unfortunate.
on May 14,2013 | 11:21AM
HD36 wrote:
Massacres and atrocities have occured since the begginig of civilization: 1191 Richard the Lionheart massacred over 3000 muslum prisoners including women and children, chopping them up with axes and swords while the muslim army watched; 1282 Sicilians massacred 200 French and any women who married a Frenchman and their children. 1546, Catholic troops masscred thousands of Protestant men, women and children, all sanctioned by Pope Paul III. It is an inhereint flaw in mankind to seek power by whatever means.
on May 14,2013 | 10:48AM
kuewa wrote:
Yes, humans will always slaughter humans under certain circumstances. However, the examples that you cite involve at least 10000 times fewer civilian victims than the numbers slaughtered by the Japanese or German armies immediately prior to and during WWII.
on May 14,2013 | 03:20PM
medigogo wrote:
Why would a mayor have anything to do with things seven decades ago? Focus on your job, you fool.
on May 14,2013 | 10:51AM
CartwrightPark wrote:
Ho hows the balls on this guy? Necessary? GTFOH!!!
on May 14,2013 | 11:06AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
This man needs to have his head checked.
on May 14,2013 | 11:13AM
Mei mei wrote:
This man needs to come back as a woman during this "time" and see what kinds of attrocities can be done to him... lets see if he believes it still was "necessary"...
on May 14,2013 | 11:24AM
HD36 wrote:
Let him come back then during the Spanish Inquisition. Let him be accused of witchcraft by the Catholic Priests.
on May 14,2013 | 11:53AM
sluggah wrote:
Read "Prisoners of the Japanese" for some historical perspective. They weren't recognized as people.
on May 14,2013 | 11:51AM
houcndat wrote:
his filter fell off
on May 14,2013 | 12:27PM
firewizard wrote:
Japanese education system teaches their students that the rape of nanking never happened, the comfort women never happened and assorted other untruths. They also ban the selling of any books or articles in japan that makes references to what they consider as untruths, even though the rest of the world accepts them as facts. Thus we have a whole bunch of Japanese running around with these lies in their heads as truths. So, hashimoto is merely regurgitating what he was taught, lies, as truth that everyone he knows hold as truths.
on May 14,2013 | 02:06PM
kolohepalu wrote:
The self-righteous indignation expressed below is rich. The problem with Americans is that they don't ever stop to consider the glass house they are casting stones from. Because of its political and military might, America has always gotten the privilege of writing the history books, and given herself glowing reviews. There are always "patriots" who happily sip the Kool-Aid and respond furiously to any suggestion that American isn't the best or not always right. These mental midgets constitute the bedrock of the red states, and thankfully, an overly vocal minority in Hawaii.
on May 14,2013 | 03:54PM
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