Osaka’s mayor yesterday hit back at US criticism of his remarks on wartime sex slavery, claiming US troops abused Japanese women during their seven-year occupation.
Washington denounced as “outrageous” comments earlier this week by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who said “comfort women” forced to provide sex to Japanese troops during World War II were a military necessity.
“Mayor Hashimoto’s comments were outrageous and offensive,” US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, urging Tokyo to work with its neighbors to address the past.
Up to 200,000 “comfort women” from Taiwan, Korea, China, the Philippines and elsewhere were forcibly drafted into brothels catering to the Japanese military during World War II, but Hashimoto hit back on Twitter.
“Let me go straight to the point. When America occupied Japan, didn’t they make use of Japanese women?” Hashimoto tweeted to his 1 million followers.
“I can’t help but point out that it is unfair for America to criticize only Japan by putting aside acts by its own country,” said Hashimoto, who has been mentioned as a possible future Japanese prime minister. “[The US] should face what the US military did against local women, in particular Okinawan women, when they occupied Japan.”
US-led Allied powers controlled Japan until 1952 following its surrender at the end of World War II. The southern prefecture of Okinawa remained under US governance for another two decades.
On Monday, Hashimoto prompted outrage by saying that soldiers living with the daily threat of death needed some way to let off steam and that this was provided by the comfort women system. He said he believed the system was wrong and that former sex slaves deserved an apology.