Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Osaka Mayor Hashimoto's Outrage to Women

Japan Restoration Party (JRP) co-leader and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's remarks that the "comfort women" system of wartime sexual servitude was necessary are ''inappropriate'' in the eyes of 71 percent of respondents to a new Mainichi Shimbun poll, 21 percent thought his remarks were ''appropriate.'' Poll conducted on May 18 and 19. He confirmed. 

The comfort women system was made of above 200,000 women from Korea, China, and the Philippines among others who were forced to serve in military brothels catering to the Japanese soldiers. In other words: sexual slavery organised, controlled and monitored by militaries and pimps.

Toru Hashimoto who is the co-head of Nippon Ishin No Kai told Shintaro Ishihara, the other co-leader of the Japanese opposition party, on Sunday that he has no intention to withdraw his recent remarks that have triggered outrage both at home and abroad. The US department branded remarks by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto defending Japan’s wartime system of sexual servitude as "outrageous." 

Toru Hashimoto said the public's "lack of reading comprehension" has caused his remarks to be taken as trying to justify the wartime sex slaves have been "misunderstood." 

Then US Representative Mike Honda, [with whom I worked on war issues early 2000s) who spearheaded a 2007 House resolution that took Japan to task on the issue, called Hashimoto’s remarks "repulsive" and said the comfort women, using Japan’s euphemism for the wartime sex slaves, suffered "horrific" physical and psychological scars. Also US Representative Steve Israel said he was "disgusted" and that Japanese officials should offer apologies to ageing former comfort women instead of "abhorrent" explanations.

Quotes: Japan Times: "In 1995, Japan issued a broader apology expressing “deep remorse” for war suffering. The 1993 statement remains a sore point for nationalists who contend that authorities did not directly force comfort women into sex and that the system was set up to prevent random rape. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, known for his conservative views on history, did not comment directly on Hashimoto’s remarks but said Japan shared the pain of survivors and stood by past statements."

Politically, this dreadful episode happens while current prime minister Shinzo Abe, helped by his neo conservative troops (Taro Aso, and Chief cabinet secretary Suga) is now willing to change the Constitution, article 96 to allow the modification of article 9 renouncing to war. A climate improper to sending clear peaceful signal to Japan's neighbours.

But the statement continues also about Okinawa and here we come to very crucial point regarding how Japan handled the system: 

"Hashimoto write on his social media account on Twitter. "Let me go straight to the point. When America occupied Japan, didn't they make use of Japanese women?" Hashimoto has a million Twitter followers. "I can't help but point out that it is unfair for America to criticise only Japan by putting aside acts by its own country." Hashimoto added that (The United States) should face what the US military did against local women, in particular Okinawa women when they occupied Japan." The Allied powers had been in control of Japan until 1952 after WWII. Then handed over Okinawa to Japan in 1972. 

Frequent crimes have been reported involving US military servicemen, accused of improper behaviours, but also of rapes and various offences, especially the 1995 case : Wikipedia: "The 1995 Okinawa rape incident refers to a rape that took place on September 4, 1995, when three U.S. servicemen, U.S. Navy Seaman Marcus Gill and U.S. Marines Rodrico Harp and Kendrick Ledet, all from Camp Hansen on Okinawa, rented a van and kidnapped a 12-year-old Japanese girl. They beat her, duct-taped her eyes and mouth shut, and bound her hands. Gill and Harp then raped her, while Ledet claimed he only pretended to do so out of fear of Gill. The incident led to further debate over the continued presence of U.S. forces in Japan." E o Q.

Adding to this accumulation of revulsive and abominable tragedies, there is one element that has been mentioned often by historians and journalists. France and Germany army had their "Bordel militaire de campagne" set during WW1 and WW2, made of obliged women, many kidnapped and enslaved and of prostitutes. We can remember here the amazing life of Marthe Richard, prostitute, pilot, spy and then politician who worked towards the closing of brothels in France in 1946. 

In Japan after WW2 [Pictures] there also is the case revealed in the book of Robert Whiting "Tokyo Underworld" (Random House, Vintage) who revealed in 1999 that after the war the Japanese government was involved into the creation of the RAA, the Recreation and Amusement Association, a group, the author writes, which was set to "sleep with Americans." Made "to sate the much anticipated and much dreaded Yankee libido while sparing the virginal flower of young Japanese female hood." End of Quotes.

As Japan Times Osaka based staff Eric Johnston wrote May 18th: " They say he’s been made a scapegoat for saying out loud what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration and many of his supporters privately think. Then there’s the theory the remarks were a form of misplaced anger over the lack of Diet action on Nippon Ishin’s key goals. Hashimoto has vehemently denied he was advocating a modern-day comfort women system. But his anger at what he perceives to be American hypocrisy on human rights is clear."

Consequence, one for the time being and more ahead if Hashimoto can't stop the fire: Your Party’s Yoshimi Watanabe told reporters: "I don't understand the type of person who freely continues to say things that destroy public trust. We appear to be straying off course" TBS reported [May 20th].


It is a tragedy that in Japan and in our world, people involved in politics do not always succeed in harmonising sound and respectful policies which would fit the needs, belief, and respect of the population as if these politicians, obsessed by popularity, could only deliver slogans and statements ruffled by tormenting psyche and nightmares. 

There also is a possibility of a manipulation or a setup to destabilise the Mayor of Osaka. Yet, he is the one who was quoted with those nauseating words. Hashimoto said he will clarify his views at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo on May 27.

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