Hashimoto re-explains his “sex and Okinawa GI’s” thoughts
Hammered by the media and constituents for his stance on Japan’s wartime “comfort women” and another firestorm over suggesting American GI’s should use Japanese brothels to relieve their stress, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto backs down and tries to explain what he really means.
Hashimoto faced a barrage of foreign reporters to try and quell the anger over his remarks that comfort women were “necessary” during the war, using the Japanese phrasing for the system that put women into sexual servitude in military brothels. He went on the offensive to salvage damages to his Nippon Ishin no Kai, Japan Restoration Party. Hashimoto’s political fortunes have been crashing since he defended the comfort woman system.
Now, Hashimoto both blamed the media for taking his remarks either out of context or using only portions of his statements, causing an “extremely regrettable result in misunderstanding of the remarks.” The fiery Osaka mayor told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan “I never condoned the use of comfort women. I place the greatest importance on the dignity of the human rights of women.”
He continued, however, to argue that the world shouldn’t pick on just Japan with charges of exploiting “sex slaves”, noting sexual violations during World War II were also involving American, British, French, German and Soviet soldiers, and Included women in what Hashimoto called “private-sector brothels. Japan’s system was bad,” he says, “but use of private brothels was similarly bad, because in such private-sector facilities, too, human trafficking took place.”
Hashimoto also took great steps to apologize for earlier remarks recommending American service personnel stationed in Okinawa should make use of existing sex establishments in order to lessen sexual crimes in the prefecture. “I understand that my remark could be construed as an insult to the U.S. forces and to the American people, and therefore was inappropriate.”
Hashimoto explained that “While visiting a U.S. military base in Okinawa, I recommended to the U.S. commander there that he make use of the adult entertainment industry to prevent U.S. soldiers from committing sexual crimes. That was not what I meant. My real intention was to prevent a mere handful of U.S. soldiers from committing crimes and strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance and the relations of trust between the two nations. In attempting to act on my strong commitment to solving the problem in Okinawa stemming from crimes committed by a minority of U.S. soldiers, I made an inappropriate remark.”
Hashimoto says his real intention is “for the national security of Japan, and the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the most important asset, and I am truly grateful to contributions made by the United States Forces Japan.
“However, in Okinawa, where many U.S. military bases are located, a small number of U.S. soldiers have repeatedly committed serious crimes, including sexual crimes, against Japanese women and children. Every time a crime has occurred, the U.S. Forces have advocated maintaining and tightening official discipline, and have promised to the Japanese people that they would take measures to stop such crimes from occurring again. Nevertheless, these crimes have not stopped. The same pattern has been repeating itself.
“I emphasize the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and greatly appreciate the U.S. Forces’ contribution to Japan. Nonetheless, the anger of the Okinawan people, whose human rights have continued to be violated, has reached its boiling point.:
Hashimoto reiterated “I have a strong wish to request that the U.S.A. face the present situation of Okinawa’s suffering from crimes committed by U.S. soldiers, and take necessary measures to alleviate the problem. It is a big issue that incidents of sexual violence have frequently happened without effective control within the U.S. military forces worldwide. It has been reported that President Obama has shown a good deal of concern over the forces’ frequent reports of military misconduct and has instructed the commanders to thoroughly tighten their official discipline, as measures taken so far have had no immediate effect.”
The mayor expressed concerns that “With all the above-mentioned situations, I felt a strong sense of crisis and said to the U.S. commander that the use of “the legally accepted adult entertainment industry in Japan” should be considered as one of all the possible measures. Even if there is no measure with an immediate effect, the current state of Okinawa should not be neglected. From my strong sense of crisis, I strongly hope that the U.S. military will use all possible measures to bring a heartless minority of soldiers under control. When expressing this strong hope, I used the phrase “the legally accepted adult entertainment industry in Japan.” When this phrase was translated into English, it led to the false report that I recommended prostitution — which is illegal under Japanese law. Furthermore, my remark was misunderstood to mean that something legally acceptable is also morally acceptable. Although the adult entertainment industry is legally accepted, it can insult the dignity of women. In that case, of course, some measures should be taken to prevent such insults.”
Still, Hashimoto wouldn’t back away completely, noting “In the area of human rights, the U.S.A. is one of the most conscientious nations. Human rights are among those values accepted throughout the world as universal. In order for human rights of the Okinawan people to be respected in the same way as those of American people are respected, I sincerely hope that the U.S. Forces will start taking effective measures in earnest to stop crimes in Okinawa from continuing.”