TOKYO (TheBlaze/AP) — A Japanese mayor apologized Monday for seeming to suggest earlier that U.S. troops should patronize legal adult entertainment businesses as a way to reduce rapes and other assaults.
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who is also the co-head of an emerging nationalistic party, said his remarks two weeks ago rose from a "sense of crisis" about cases of sexual assaults by U.S. military personnel on Japanese civilians in Okinawa, where a large number of U.S. troops are based.
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on May 27, 2013. Hashimoto recently drew fire by saying that women forced to provide sex to Japanese troops during World War II were a military necessity. Opinion polls show that a large majority of Japanese disagree with the mayor's remarks on the so-called "comfort women". (Photo: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)
"I understand that my remark could be construed as an insult to the U.S. forces and to the American people" and was inappropriate, he said at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Tokyo.
Hashimoto had created another uproar when he said that Japan's wartime practice of forcing Asian women, mostly from South Korea and China, to work in front-line brothels was necessary to "maintain discipline" and provide relaxation for soldiers.
“To maintain discipline in the military, it must have been necessary at that time,” Hashimoto said. “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.”
He didn't apologize for those comments as a whole, but he did call the use of so-called comfort women an "inexcusable act that violated the dignity and human rights of the women, in which large numbers of Korean and Japanese were included."
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, center left, arrives at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo for a news conference Monday, May 27, 2013. The outspoken Japanese politician apologized Monday for saying U.S. troops should patronize adult entertainment businesses as a way to reduce rapes, but defended another controversial remark about Japan's use of sex slaves during World War II. (Photo: AP/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Still, he claimed he had been quoted out of context to say that he personally believed that the use of a "comfort women" system was necessary. He was trying to say that armed forces of nations around the world "seem to have needed women" in past wars and also violated women's human rights during wartime.
Earlier this month when he said he would not be retracting any of his statements, he said:
"If there is one big mistake I made, that might have been my lack of understanding of culture behind the U.S. sex industry — if you mention adult entertainment in the U.S., everyone thinks of prostitution," Hashimoto said during a live TV talk show from Osaka, in western Japan. "I admit that my international sensitivity was quite poor when I had to operate beyond national borders."
Singling out Japan was wrong, as this issue also existed in the armed forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the former Soviet Union during World War II, he alleged.
"Based on the premise that Japan must remorsefully face its past offenses and must never justify the offenses, I intended to argue that other nations in the world must not attempt to conclude the matter by blaming only Japan and by associating Japan alone with the simple phrase of 'sex slaves' or 'sex slavery,'" he said in the statement.