Female lawmakers blast Hashimoto, call him the 'shame of Osaka'

May 16, 2013

By IZUMI SAKURAI/ Staff Writer

A multipartisan group of female lawmakers demanded that Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto retract his remark about wartime “comfort women,” saying he has embarrassed Japan and shown the world he does not understand human rights.

Ten Diet members held a news conference on May 16 at the Upper House members’ building in Tokyo to express their outrage and seek an apology from the mayor.

Criticism around the world erupted after Hashimoto said earlier this week that “comfort women,” a euphemism for women sent to front-line brothels, were necessary for battle-weary Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The lawmakers said Hashimoto’s comment could not be overlooked because it was a major statement that trampled on human rights.

“Hashimoto is the shame of Osaka,” said Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a Lower House member of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan who is also from Osaka Prefecture. “He has said that he would make Osaka into an international city and foster children so they can work in the global marketplace, but he has shown the world that he himself does not possess a global awareness of human rights.”

She said the comment from Hashimoto, who is also co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party, was the equivalent of saying there was nothing wrong with using women in carrying out war.

The 10 lawmakers at the news conference came from five different parties--the DPJ, People’s Life Party, Green Wind, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party.

Mizuho Fukushima, the SDP leader, said all parties were invited to take part in the news conference. But no members from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party or New Komeito attended. The coalition partners said they would handle the matter on their own.

Yuko Mori, an Upper House member of People’s Life Party, said she fears that people in other countries may come to believe that all Japanese share Hashimoto’s opinions.

“Articles have been widely reported around the world about Hashimoto’s comment that said a ‘Japanese mayor said sex slaves are necessary.’ This has become a very serious matter,” Mori said. “Having such an individual as the mayor of the international city of Osaka as well as the co-leader of a political party will lead to the perception that the Japanese people have a very low sense of human rights.”

Renho, a DPJ Upper House member, said Hashimoto’s comment was an outrageous anachronism. In addition to calling for a retraction and apology, she asked that Hashimoto step down and let Osaka voters decide if they want him to remain as mayor.

She also criticized the Japan Restoration Party, which is also led by Shintaro Ishihara, the former Tokyo governor whose nationalistic words and actions have often triggered outrage from Japan’s neighbors.

“I simply cannot understand how all members of the party can say that Hashimoto’s comments are his personal views,” said Renho, who goes by just a single name.

***

Excerpts from a question-and-answer session with Hashimoto can be found at: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201305160087

By IZUMI SAKURAI/ Staff Writer
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Lawmakers hold a news conference in Tokyo on May 16 to criticize Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto for his comment about "comfort women." (Izumi Sakurai)

Lawmakers hold a news conference in Tokyo on May 16 to criticize Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto for his comment about "comfort women." (Izumi Sakurai)

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  • Lawmakers hold a news conference in Tokyo on May 16 to criticize Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto for his comment about "comfort women." (Izumi Sakurai)

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