Big discomfort likely for opposition JRP in Japan over comments on comfort women


    ( The issue of comfort women has blown up into a big controversy and may cause a lot of discomfort to the upcoming opposition outfit, Japan Restoration Party (Nippon Ishin no Kai).

    Only recently Osaka Mayor and JRP co-leader Toru Hashimoto justified the use of the “comfort women”, especially in countries invaded by Japan, especially Korea, during World War II.

    Hashimoto said in Osaka last Monday that apart from the issue of whether the women were coerced or not, he believes the system to recruit women into sexual servitude was “necessary to maintain discipline” in the Japanese military during World War II.

    This statement of Hashimoto evoked sharp reactions from South Korea, China and the Philippines, which were invaded and occupied by the Japanese army as well as the United States, which defeated Japan in World War-II and still has a military base there. The remarks have the potential to affect diplomatic relationship with these countries. And if the JRP really comes to power in the future it will have to do a lot of explanation on the issue as it is too emotionally tied to the neighbouring countries and reminds one of the horrific Japanese brutality in East and South East Asia.

    But Hashimoto’s statement was also meant for the US army personnel deployed in his country. He told reporters that when he visited a US military base in Okinawa in south Japan earlier this month, he proposed that US troops make more legal use of the local sex industry to help reduce rapes and other assaults that have often been reported there.

    “For any group which must fight and risk their lives under the extreme circumstances of bullets and fire crossing back and forth over them, anybody knows that a system to manage their sexual arousal is necessary in order to give them some rest,” he was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

    Incidentally JRP co-leader Shintaro Ishihara also supported the remarks on Tuesday. He told the media in Tokyo that “prostitution is a natural product of an army, and that this principle has been widely observed through history.”

    He said Hashimoto’s comments should only be understood within this context and emphasized that it is a historical principle.

    The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, while talking to reporters, said that there is an “illogical leap” in what the Osaka Mayor had said.

    JRP’s stand has landed it in a bit of trouble with small partner, Your Party, announcing that it would reconsider its collaboration with it in the upcoming elections.

    “We would like to make a clear distinction from Hashimoto’s stance…His words are completely anachronistic and we never support any candidate who shares similar ideas,” Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe told the Press on Wednesday.

    Till Friday Osaka City municipal government has received more than 1,000 complaints and protest messages, including e-mails, against Hashimoto’s remarks. Most of them rebuked the Mayor for expressing comments that are inappropriate for a city head or political party leader.

    The issue of comfort women keeps haunting the Japanese society. Japanese leaders have in the past publicly apologized for this action of their soldiers in World War-II.