A prominent Japanese politician is facing international criticism after declaring it was “necessary” for Asian women to act as prostitutes for the sake of World War II troops.
Toru Hasimoto, Mayor of Osaka – Japan’s third-largest city – claimed “comfort women” were a necessity given the grueling conditions troops were forced to endure in wartime.
Upwards of 200,000 women in territories occupied by Japan – including China, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines – were forced to become sex slaves for Japanese troops.
Although Japan’s treatment of its neighbors during World War II has long been a source of tension in years past, Hashimoto didn’t shy away from the controversial topic when speaking with Japanese reporters Monday.
“In the circumstances in which bullets are flying like rain and wind, the soldiers are running around at the risk of losing their lives. If you want them to have a rest in such a situation, a system like the ‘comfort women’ is necessary. Anyone can understand that,” Hashimoto told reporters in Osaka. “When I checked the history of those years, I found that not only the Japanese army but also those of various countries were utilizing comfort women.”
Despite his remarks, Hashimoto quickly softened his stance, acknowledging the women were forced to serve Imperialist soldiers “against their will.”
“It is a result of the tragedy of the war that they became comfort women against their will. The responsibility for the war also lies with Japan,” he said. “We have to politely offer kind words to former comfort women.”