Earlier this month, Osaka, Japan Mayor and co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party, Toru Hashimoto caused controversy by referring Japan’s policy of providing “comfort women” to soldiers in World War II as “necessary.” The women he referred to were taken from surrounding countries, such as China and Korea, and forced into sex slavery during the war. He had last year claimed that there is no evidence that the Japanese military was involved in the enslavement of these women.
This morning, Hashimoto called a press conference to explain his remarks and offer an apology. According to an AFP report, Hashimoto spoke for nearly three hours to the foreign press, defending his comments and accusing other countries of sex slavery as well.
Hashimoto spent much of his address defending his comments, repeating that it is “unclear” that Japan or the Japanese military officially provided comfort women. He also accused other countries, such as the U.S., Britain, France, the U.S.S.R, and Germany of doing the same during World War II, though through less official means, such as private businessmen who operated wartime brothels. Hashimoto also stated that, no matter how it was provided, World War II sex slavery was wrong.
Hashimoto also took the opportunity to walk back his comments to the U.S. military stationed in Okinawa. According to the AFP report, he had previously encouraged U.S. commanders to allow soldiers to partake in Japan’s licensed sex shops, in order to lessen crimes committed by those soldiers. Back in March, two U.S. Navy sailors were convicted of raping and robbing a woman in Okinawa.