Osaka Mayor, Defender of "Comfort Women," Asks SF Board to Retract Condemnation - NBC Bay Area

Osaka Mayor, Defender of "Comfort Women," Asks SF Board to Retract Condemnation

Controversial remarks over wartime sex slavery sparked outrage.



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    A memorial dedicated to the Comfort Women, sex slaves kept by Japanese soldiers in World War II. The mayor of Osaka, who in May defended the practice, is asking San Francisco city leaders to withdraw a condemnation of his remarks.

    The comfort mayor is fighting back -- and one of his first targets is San Francisco.

    Embattled Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto -- whose comments defending the Japanese army's wartime practice of using "comfort women," essentially sex slaves, in military brothels, sparked international outcry -- is asking the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to retract its resolution condemning his remarks, according to Kyodo News International.

    Hashimoto, a onetime favorite for prime minister and co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party, said in May that the military brothels were "necessary" during wartime for Japanese soldiers.

    He added that modern-day American soldiers on Okinawa should use more adult entertainment services in order to cut down on sexual assault and other violence towards women on that island, according to the New York Times.

    San Francisco political leaders participated in the outrage against Hashimoto. Led by Supervisor Jane Kim -- who is of Korean descent; many of the women serving as sex slaves in Japanese brothels during the war were Korean -- the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on June 18 blasting Hashimoto's remarks.

    Hashimoto subsequently canceled a visit to San Francisco -- but he said Thursday that he sent a letter to San Francisco leaders asking that the resolution be retracted.

    According to the Global Post
    , Hashimoto said that "misunderstandings" led to the resolution, and that he has "never legitimized or defended the institution of 'comfort women.'"

    "My statements on 'comfort women' have always been consistent with my concern for the protection and enhancement of women's dignity and human rights," he said in the letter, adding that further blaming of Japan for the ugly practice would hurt international relations.

    No response from San Francisco city officials was immediately available.