U.S. slams Japanese mayor's sex-slave comments as 'offensive'

WASHINGTON Thu May 16, 2013 4:24pm EDT

Japan Restoration Party deputy leader and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto attends a joint news conference to unveil their party's election campaign platform in Tokyo, in this November 29, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Issei Kato/Files

Japan Restoration Party deputy leader and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto attends a joint news conference to unveil their party's election campaign platform in Tokyo, in this November 29, 2012 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato/Files

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States condemned as "outrageous and offensive" comments by the mayor of the Japanese city of Osaka who said this week that Japan's military brothels during World War Two were "necessary" to provide respite for soldiers.

The remarks by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto drew strong criticism from China and South Korea, two nations sensitive to what they see as any attempt to excuse Japanese abuses before and during the war.

Historians estimate that as many as 200,000 sex slaves, known as comfort women, were forced into submission in the Imperial Japanese Army's brothels during the war.

"Mayor Hashimoto's comments were outrageous and offensive," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

"What happened in that era to these women who were trafficked for sexual purposes is deplorable and clearly a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions," she said, adding that Washington hoped Japan would work with its neighbors to address the mistakes of the past.

The Japanese government has sought to distance itself from Hashimoto's comments.

"The government's stance is, as we have said before, that we feel great heartache when we think about the indescribable suffering of those who experienced this," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, although he declined to comment directly on Hashimoto's remarks.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Philip Barbara)

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Comments (13)
Pterosaur wrote:
That’s a good start. But condemnation should be followed by action, otherwise, it’s only lips service to control the damage created by the unconditional support given to an ex-facists turned “ally”.

May 16, 2013 6:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Assur wrote:
The Sex slaves were just as necessary as the concentration camps the US built to hold people of Japanese descent.

May 16, 2013 6:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
econo-novice wrote:
American soldiers stationed abroad are probably the best educated soldiers in history. But we still witness frequent rapes and assaults against women in Okinawa by those soldiers, who are educated by the lofty ideal of humanity, even nowadays not in 1940s. The reported vulgar remark by the mayor is really shocking and not justified by any means, but it is still sad if women near the bases in Okinawa would live every day scared.

May 16, 2013 8:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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