Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.
TOKYO (AP) - A Japanese mayor apologized Monday for saying 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.
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.
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.
He didn't apologize for those comments,
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."
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
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.
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,'" Hashimoto said in the statement.
say up to 200,000 women, mainly from the Korean Peninsula and China,
were forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers in military brothels.
While some other World War II armies had military brothels, Japan is the
only country accused of such widespread, organized sexual slavery.
43, has become well-known in recent years for his outspokenness. Last
year, he formed a conservative party, the Japan Restoration Party, with
former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, a strident nationalist. The party
is now an opposition party in the parliament.
His comments have
added to recent anger in neighboring countries that suffered from
Japan's wartime aggression and have complained about the lack of
atonement for atrocities committed during that time.
Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December, Abe had advocated revising a
1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono acknowledging
and expressing remorse for the suffering caused to the sex slaves. Abe
has said recently he stands by that statement and won't revise it.