25 women’s groups in Okinawa criticize Hashimoto’s remarks on comfort women

25 women's groups in Okinawa criticize Hashimoto's remarks on comfort women

On May 15, at the Press Club in the Okinawa Prefectural Government office, women's groups in Okinawa protested against Toru Hashimoto's remarks.

May 15, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, the co-leader of the opposition Japan Restoration Party, has said that the Japanese military’s “comfort women” regime of forced prostitution of Asian women before and during the Second World War was necessary for Japanese soldiers to maintain discipline. He also said that U.S. soldiers in Okinawa should make more use of the adult entertainment industry there in order to reduce sexual crimes against local women. On May 15, women’s groups in Okinawa held a press conference at the Okinawa Prefectural Office at which they protested against his statements.

Representatives of the groups called for Hashimoto to apologize and to retract what he said. One said, “Hashimoto’s remarks look to justify outright discrimination and impact on the dignity of all human beings. We are surprised and angry about his remarks, which we find distasteful.”

The group issued a proclamation and sent it to the Osaka Municipal Office that same day.

In the press conference, Suzuyo Takazato, co-chair of the Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence said, “Factual records exist proving that the Japanese military deceived women and coerced them into prostitution in so-called comfort stations. Hashimoto suggested that comfort women had played a necessary role in making war-crazed soldiers vent their sexual frustration and that currently local adult entertainment industry could serve the same purpose. We need to speak up against these kinds of remarks that deeply offend people.”

Masako Ishimine, the head of the Okinawa Prefectural Women’s Groups Liaison Council demanded Hashimoto’s resignation, saying, “Hashimoto is indifferent towards the suffering of the women who were coerced into becoming comfort women and suggests that it makes sense for women to provide sexual services to soldiers. He sees women as something to be used. I want Hashimoto to resign as Osaka mayor and as co-leader of the party.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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