US condemns Osaka mayor’s remarks on WW II comfort women

May 18, 2013 Ryota Shimabukuro of Ryukyu Shimpo reports from Washington D.C.

On May 16, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki denounced the remarks made by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto regarding the so-called comfort women during the Second World War. “Mayor Hashimoto’s comments were outrageous and offensive,” Psaki told reporters at a regular press briefing.

Mayor Hashimoto, who is also co-leader of Japan’s Restoration Party, said that sexual servitude by women was “necessary” for Japanese soldiers during World War II and suggested that U.S. servicemen in Okinawa avail themselves of the local adult-entertainment industry. The United States has officially denounced the Osaka mayor’s remarks for the first time. The U.S. authorities had gone no further than commenting that prostitution is forbidden by law.

Psaki said, “As the United States has stated previously, what happened in that era to these women who were trafficked for sexual purposes is deplorable and clearly a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions.” Referring to the comfort women or wartime sex slaves exploited by the Japanese military, she went on to say, “We hope that Japan will continue to work with its neighbors to address this and other issues arising from the past and cultivate relationships that allow them to move forward.” She calls for Japan to raise its historical awareness. With regard to the State Department spokeswoman condemning the Osaka mayor’s remarks in such strong terms, the authorities concerned said that she was responding to requests from reporters to comment on unpleasant remarks. The authorities added that all the staff in their office were angry at the mayor’s remarks.
Jen Psaki has replaced Victoria Nuland as the State Department spokesperson. She began conducting the daily press briefings on May 13.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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