OSAKA--Toru Hashimoto, co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party, said on May 13 that "comfort women" were necessary for Japanese soldiers during World War II, but then softened his tone, saying that they served soldiers "against their will."
Comfort women are an euphemism for those who provided sex for Japanese soldiers during the war.
“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 comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that,” Hashimoto, also the Osaka mayor, told reporters in a building of the Osaka city government.
He also said, “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).”
Then, he said, “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. We have to politely offer kind words to (former) comfort women.”
As for the statement released in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, which expressed remorse and apology to Asian countries on Japan’s colonial rule and aggression, Hashimoto said he supported it.
“Japan is a defeated country," he said. "As a result of the defeat in the war, we must accept (the view) that what Japan did was aggression. There are no doubts (about the accusation) that Japan caused tremendous suffering and damage to neighboring countries. Japan must reflect on it and make an apology.”
On the other hand, he showed understanding of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent controversial assertion that the definition of aggression has yet to be decided. The remark triggered strong outrage in South Korea, which Japan colonized from 1910 to 1945.
“What Prime Minister Abe is saying is correct in that, academically, there are no definitions on aggression,” Hashimoto said.
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